December 8, 2007

It's Always Tea With The Brits

Slowly the media outlets have begun to acknowledge the dramatic success of the surge strategy in Iraq. Some of them use unusual methods of measurement; for the Washington Post, the activity of cabbies demonstrated the return to normalcy in Baghdad. For the BBC, it comes down to a very British -- and Arabic -- method of measure:

For the American soldiers patrolling Baghdad's southern suburb of Dora these are days of trial by tea.

For in many houses they enter in this largely Sunni part of the city, hot sweet tea is offered and they know that refusal can offend.

It does not stop at tea either. As a goodwill gesture, the soldiers have taken to buying roast chicken, cheese, bread, and the Iraqi delicacy called samoun - bread dipped in sweet syrup - as they make their rounds of Dora. ...

Nearby Dora market is thriving. Back in April when we visited, about 200 stall or shop owners were risking snipers and bombs to open for business. Now there are more than 1,000.

Mark Urban embedded with the 2nd Platoon, Gator Company, 2-12 Infantry in April and November. The difference in the two experiences are remarkable. Urban noted that in his first embed, as the surge began to ramp up, his unit came under fire every day. Dora was almost paralyzed by the conflict. Now, shops have opened and the people interact with the troops rather than hide from them while insurgents and terrorists target them.

The 2-12 returns this week to its base in Colorado. Urban reports that many of them have exhausted themselves in the counterinsurgency effort, but that others have thrived on it. All of them tell Urban that the success remains fragile and could still collapse.

The men of the 2-12 deserve a hero's welcome on their return to the US. We need to make sure that their victory gets secured after their rotation. They worked and bled for that victory, and for us to toss it away because we simply didn't have the political courage to ensure it would be criminal -- and a betrayal of not just the 2-12, but of the Iraqis who welcomed them and helped drive out the extremists and the terrorists from Dora and a thousand places like it.


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