Monday, May 5, 2008

Moment of Truth in Iraq

I have a quick book recommendation - "Moment of Truth in Iraq" by Michael Yon.

Michael Yon is a former Green Beret who became a journalist some 10 years ago. Frustrated with what they believed to be inaccurate depictions of the progress the military was making, Yon's friends in the military hounded him to come embed with the troops and tell "their side".

As a journalist, Yon has never been affiliated with any news agency, political party or military organization, so the reader need not worry about a reporter there on an angle, or with an agenda. He obviously has a bond with the military, but he does not hesitate from pointing out its failures.

And by "embed with the troops", it literally means accompany them on numerous missions. He's in the middle of several battles, meets with various sheiks and members of the Iraqi Army and Police.

The sum of the book is that in the first two years of the war, the Coalition (U.S.) made numerous mistakes. And not just executive mistakes (Rumsfeld), but the approach they took with cities and towns. And they paid for it. If al Qaeda had been smart enough to capitalize on this, they would have won the war, Yon posits. But al Qaeda's own blunders have given the U.S. a second chance, and they're making the most of it by working very closely with the Iraqi Army, Police and citizens. This isn't to suggest that we're on the goal-line; Yon is keen to the obstacles that have yet to be overcome. But momentum has turned, and can be built upon.

Yon has embedded with the Army, the Marines as well as the British Army from cities such as Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul, Baqubah and Basra. His trips into the battlefield are gripping, and his accounts of Iraqi life are equally eye-opening. You can read Yon's dispatches and see his camera-work from his online journal here, and you can subscribe to his RSS feed here.

I'm still skeptical of the prospect for the long-term success of a democratic government in Iraq, but "Moment of Truth in Iraq" provides fresh, credible reasons for why success shouldn't be ruled out. It is also yet another testament to the bravery and heroism of the American soldier. I give it a very strong recommendation!

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