Surge is 'Working,' But True Success is Up to the Iraqis

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"To surge or not to surge; that is the question." If you are a Republican running for president, you have a strong opinion about the surge. If you are Democrat running for president, you have a strong opinion about the surge. If you are a soldier serving in Iraq — actually in the surge — you have an opinion, but nobody cares.

In February of this year, President Bush ordered the military to send an extra 30,000 soldiers to Iraq in order to provide the Iraqi government with a “security bubble,” which would allow the Iraqi people to build their police, military and government into something resembling a police force, a military and a government.

Predictably, and with great respect, I am happy to report that everyday, again and again, the American military is kicking serious ass. Wherever the American soldier fights in Iraq, security and safety ensue. We should all be very proud of these amazingly dedicated and brave men and women. The problem is they, the soldiers, were never meant to, or even allowed to, carry total victory in Iraq. The soldiers gave the Iraqi people and this president a great victory almost five years ago. What the soldiers are doing now is giving the Iraqi people their chance and they are blowing it BIG TIME.

Tactically we are winning, again, while politically and economically we are losing, again. We got what we wanted: a safer environment. What we didn't get were all of the things that were supposed to follow.

The United States military will always win the battles and the wars, despite some of the most insipid senior civilian and military leadership in history. However, the United States military is not designed to, nor equipped to, build countries. That is a task for our entire government. That is a task that is usually led by our Department of State. In the case of Iraq, Rumsfeld won the battle with Powell on who was going to be in charge of Iraq and we got what we got — chaos.

We wished that the surge would work; it did. However, things are still not better in Iraq.

How come? Because without the full, not half-assed, participation and cooperation of the Iraqi government, police, military and people, all the success, bravery, victorious battles, and killing of bad guys by the hundreds a day, will not get it done.

The fate of Iraq, once we took the place, was always up to the Iraqis. The American soldier has done it all: killed insurgents, terrorists, jihadists and members of Iranian militias. They have rebuilt cities, inoculated every child in Iraq, built over 3,000 schools, cleaned up polluted rivers and, oh yeah, died and gave up body parts for the Iraqi people. It has been enough, fini, no more, nil, full damn stop.

We won, and the American soldier did what he always does, win. The Iraqi people have been given their freedom; it is way past time they began to earn it. We wished for the surge to work and it did on our end. True success was always up to the Iraqi people and that we cannot wish for, that has to be done.

We should not abandon Iraq. To do so would be stupid. But we have to stop fighting for it. We can support. We can train. We can continue to spend billions of dollars a week. But we can and must stop dying for it.

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Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.