The Iraq War, 9 Years Later

On March 19, 2003 President George Bush addressed the nation announcing the beginning of the Iraq War:

“My fellow citizens. At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger…Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force and I assure you this will not be a campaign of half measures as we will accept no outcome but victory.”

However, President Bush’s determination for victory was not an easy task.  It was not until the United States changed its counterinsurgency doctrine and focused more on working alongside the Iraqi population than against them.

In the preface of Awakening Victory: How Iraqi Tribes and American Troops Reclaimed al Anbar Province and Defeated al Qaeda in Iraq author Michael Silverman writes,

“From late 2004 through late 2006 we were losing the Iraq War. Our heavy-handed military actions, wholesale abolition of the Iraqi security apparatus, and condemnation of all Ba’ath Party members led to a schism between Sunni and Shia Iraqis that eventually exploded into civil war. In the chaos we created, al Qaeda saw a grand opportunity to establish a new base from which to launch a campaign that threatened an entire region…Awakening Victory describes how America and our Iraqi partners turned the tide in the Iraq War by finally realizing what the war was about. It was a battle to win the aspirations of the Iraqi population.” pp. viii-ix

Awakening Victory describes the state of war from 2004 to 2006 and the new “surge” of the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment in 2007.  As commander of this Battalion, Silverman describes how the United States finally resolved the War in Iraq.  This book describes, “the exact turning point where the United States turned a supposedly failed war into a possibly enduring success.”

To further discuss this important book, we asked author Michael Silverman a few questions.

Why did you decide to write this book?

I found that the complexities of the Iraq War and the War on Terror (Long War) were lost on the average American. Too many see the Long War as a crusade, us against them, but the truth is that only Muslims can win this war and their contributions and sacrifices are staggering. I think I got tired of answering the recurring question, “When are the Iraqis going to sacrifice for their own future?”

What do you like most about your book? Why should we read it?

 I like that it tells a story about the side of the Iraq War that most Americans understand the least—the critical turning point that occurred when we partnered with the Iraqi Tribes in al Anbar Province. And how the U.S. Military struggled with understanding what it means to win a war like that—a war where our actions merely augment the actions of the local population. You should read it because Iraqi Freedom was the first war of its kind; but will not be the last. As we look at the world today, we see that people all over the Middle-East are struggling to achieve what we already have—individual human rights, freedom, and a government that serves the people; not one that people must serve. As ugly as it was (and believe me, it was ugly) what happened in Iraq directly impacted the people of the Muslim World and we must learn from our mistakes in Iraq and capitalize on our strengths to ensure that we end-up on the right side of history. Bombs and bullets are a tool, but ideas will ultimately win the Long War.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am wrestling with the nexus of the much maligned “Freedom Agenda” of the neoconservative movement and the “Arab Spring.” The worst thing that ever happened to al Qaeda and the violent Pan-Islamist movement was the Awakening! Now, as a direct result of the democracy in Iraq—even with all its flaws and warts– we see intelligent Muslims of all stripes grappling to have what we have—individual human rights and government of, by, and for the people. The enlightenment has finally reached Islam and we must find a road ahead that allows us to advocate for liberal democracy without the violence of the Iraq War.

For more from Michael Silverman, read his op-ed piece from our previous blog post as well as his featured article in Soldier of Fortune, The End of the Iraq War for United States?

Additional Titles on the Iraq War:

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