All day - and it was a long day - we drove through Shia and Sunni neighborhoods. Everywhere, the reception was warm. No violence. None.
And no hostility toward our troops. Iraqis went out of their way to tell us we were welcome.
Instead of a civil war, something very different happened because of the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. The fanatic attempt to stir up Sunni-vs.-Shia strife, and the subsequent spate of violent attacks, caused popular support for the U.S. presence to spike upward.
Ralph Peters, December 2006:
Generalities and platitudes won't fix Iraq. But they will kill our men and women in uniform to no good purpose. Before we send them on such a difficult mission, we should at least be willing to face the difficult questions.
Army generals worry that frantic politicos want to send more troops to Iraq as a p.r. stunt, to appear to be taking decisive action. Our uniformed leadership is rightly loath to have our troops used to give anyone's approval ratings a temporary boost.
Oh Ralphie, what made you suddenly see the light? And more importantly, why couldn't you have written that in late 2002 or early 2003 when it would have mattered?