Here are Eric's concluding sentiments:
Liberals are falling all over themselves nowadays to admit they were wrong on the Surge. So much so, in fact, that as Brooks points out, they've taken to the line of it's time to bring the boys home due to that success.
The only hold outs these days seem to be the Anti-War Libertarians who still to this day stubbornly refuse to acknowledge Bush's success in Iraq: Ron Paulists, LewRockwell.com, Anthony Gregory, Justin Raimondo, Eric Garris, Thomas L. Knapp, Doug Bandow, Dave Boaz, the Cato Institute foreign policy team, Reason Magazine, and many others on the leftside of the libertarian movement. They just can't bring themselves to admit they were wrong.
I'd guess that I qualify in Dondero's book as a Left Libertarian, despite the fact that I'm a military historian, spent 21 years in the US Armed Forces, and nearly a decade working on homeland security issues.
And while I'm sure that Reason, or Cato, or Thomas Knapp will eventually explain it for him, the advantage of being a small-time operator is the flexibility to respond quickly.
The Surge was and is a tactical/operational change in the tempo and focus of American operations in Iraq, intended to be time-limited in terms of resource commitment to achieve a specific end: creating an atmosphere of temporary stability for the US-backed Iraqi government to get its act together.
I do not dispute the tactical insights of General Petraeus, the courage and abilities of my brothers and sisters with boots on the ground, or even the fact that the surge has achieved its short/medium-term goal.
None of which changes the following:
Long-term prospects for stability in Iraq, especially in the fantasy pro-US Iraq that was to be the lynch-pin of a grand strategy to remake the face of the Middle East are no better than they were three years ago because the long-term dynamics of the situation have not changed. Iraq is organized into a weak federal government system that is inherently ill-equipped to maintain internal peace in the cultural dynamic of three major ethnic/religious groups caught within the artificial confines of a common nation-state. The stability prospects of this state are poor regardless of the presence of Al Qaeda or other outside influences.
The effectiveness of the Surge has not in any fashion reduced the influence of Iran in the region. Quite the contrary, the Surge has, by making the Iraqi government look even more like American lapdogs, convinced many moderate politicians throughout the Middle East that some sort of independent counterweight to Western influence. Moreover, the increasingly unilateral nature of Israeli posturing toward Teheran continues to erode both stability and US credibility in the region.
There continues to be absolutely no evidence that "fighting the terrorists over there keeps us from having to fight them at home". The lack of large-scale terrorist action against US territory is attributable not to operations in Iraq, nor even primarily to many of the more ridiculous security measures adopted domestically (taking off my shoes in the airport); the primary deterrent to Islamic terror in the US remains logistical. Men who spend their days sitting in caves pulling fleas out of their blankets, no matter how many laptops or Swiss bank accounts they have, cannot maintain a significant operational tempo against the continental US. They can at best try for long-shot gamble every few years.
The fact that a specific tactic within the context of the war is working is not an ex post facto justification of an interventionist war in the first place. In other words, if it was neither advisable nor ethical to conduct a near-unilateral intervention in Iraq, then--guess what?--even winning the war doesn't make it right. What it does do is make the use of unilateral American military might more seductive to politicians, corporations, and ideologues of all stripes.
There are more reasons, but I'll let it rest there.
The point, for our Republican friends who mistakenly think they're Libertarians, is that the hard-won tactical victory won at significant cost to my brothers and sisters in green is a barren one, that will rank with other squandered victories like Operation Junction City (Vietnam, 1967) or Huertgen Forest (ETO 1944).