Ralph Peters in the New York Post, on Iraq: What Went Right. He attributes the rapidly-improving security situation to a combination of factors: courage, skill, luck and exhaustion.
He also notes the importance of staying the course--against the prevailing currents of conventional wisdom and political expediency. As Lt Col Peters writes:
We didn't quit: Even as some of us began to suspect that Iraqi society was hopelessly sick, our troops stood to and did their duty bravely. The tenacity of our soldiers and Marines in the face of mortal enemies in Iraq and blithe traitors at home is the No. 1 reason why Iraq has turned around.
Without their valor and sacrifice, nothing else would've mattered. Key leaders were courageous, too - men such as now-Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno. Big Ray was pilloried in our media for being too warlike, too aggressive and just too damned tough on our enemies.
Well, the Ray Odiernos, not the hearts-and-minds crowd, held the line against evil. Only by hammering our enemies year after year were we able to convince them that we couldn't - and wouldn't - be beaten. If the press wronged any single man or woman in uniform, it was Odierno - thank God he was promoted and stayed in the fight.
What a difference a year makes. Thanksgiving 2006 was filled with talk about a rapid U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, with little regard for the security consequences. There was also talk from James Baker (and other so-called wise men) to develop some sort of political settlement with other countries in the region, including Iran. What a disaster that would have been. Yet, it was viewed as a serious policy option--perhaps our only viable option--barely a year ago.
We have much to be thankful for this holiday season, beyond the usual blessings that come with being an American. We should thankful for heroes like General Odierno--and the thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines--who held the line, and accomplishing what the "experts" claimed could never be done.