Grant, Patton, MacArthur, Ike...

From today’s New York Times.

By way of introduction, the article, on page 1 of the World section, is written by Dexter Filkins. Mr. Filkins is no novice to Iraq, he actually lived there for three years after Saddam went away so he knows from whence he speakith. And please, read the whole article. It’s a fairly long read, but you’ll savor every second of it.Just a taste of the article.

When I left Iraq in the summer of 2006, after living three and a half years here following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, I believed that evil had triumphed, and that it would be many years before it might be stopped. Iraq, filled with so many people living so close together, nurturing dark and unknowable grievances, seemed destined for a ghastly unraveling.And now, in the late summer of 2008, comes the calm. Violence has dropped by as much as 90 percent. A handful of the five million Iraqis who fled their homes — one-sixth of all Iraqis — are beginning to return. The mornings, once punctuated by the sounds of exploding bombs, are still. Is it possible that the rage, the thirst for revenge, the sectarian furies, have begun to fade? That Iraqis have been exhausted and frightened by what they have seen?“We are normal people, ordinary people, like people everywhere,” Aziz al-Saiedi said to me the other day, as we sat on a park bench in Sadr City, only recently freed from the grip of the Mahdi Army. The park was just a small patch of bare ground with a couple of swing sets; it didn’t even have a name, yet it was filled to the bursting. “We want what everyone else wants in this world,” he said.

Just one more snip, from Filkins interview with General Ray Ordieno…

For reasons that are obvious — as a soldier, [General Ordieno] takes orders from America’s civilian leaders — the general was less than precise on how he saw it all unfolding.

“If the next president changes the mission, then I have to figure out,” General Odierno said, stopping himself. “You know, whoever that may be.”

Now let’s see. When asked who they would turn to for advice the answers were:

  • John McCain: General Petraeus.

  • Barack Obama: My wife Michelle.

Need we discuss exactly what is at stake here?