Fallujah, Al Qaeda, and American sacrifice

But the Marines and others who fought in Fallujah didn’t just save lives by ending the carnage that Zarqawi’s Fallujah produced. They helped save a nation. Had Zarqawi retained his fortified base of operations, the sectarian bloodletting of 2006 would almost certainly have arrived much sooner, before the U.S. military had the ability to grapple with that challenge. Herein is the defining truth: Along with the hundreds of thousands of other Americans who served in Iraq, the Marines of Fallujah helped win extraordinary reductions in violence. In doing so, they brought hope where despair had reigned, giving Iraqis a chance to forge a future of their own making, rather than one shaped by tyrants and terrorists.

In 2004, Iraq’s government was utterly dysfunctional. Today, albeit deeply flawed, the Iraqi government is showing the military capacity and the hints of flexibility that it will need to survive.

Again, this doesn’t mean that the costs of Iraq were worth it. But it does mean that our public discourse on Iraq requires a little more honesty. Just as it was wrong to write off Iraq in late 2006, so too we should not deny the possibility that Iraq’s democracy will yet prosper.