Our Opinion: Reassured

Enormous challenges lie ahead in rebuilding Mosul, Iraq, after many months of occupation by Islamic terrorists. But liberation of the city last week spotlighted an incredibly important turning point in the war against murderous extremist groups.

Once a city of 3 million people, Mosul was captured by Islamic State terrorists in June 2014. Iraqi government troops fled in disarray.

That was one of the very lowest points in the long duel between Islamic terrorists and those they would subjugate. It implied that without active military assistance from abroad — the United States — Iraqis might not be able to prevail against the forces of evil.

Last October, Iraqi troops launched an offensive to retake Mosul. It was made clear that virtually all of the campaign would be handled by Iraqi soldiers. A few U.S. troops were involved, but strictly as advisers.

U.S. air power did play a role in the battle for Mosul, and it was important.

But as virtually any knowledgeable veteran will testify, no campaign can succeed without an effective ground assault. That requires effective use of capable, courageous troops — who bear the brunt of the sacrifices.

Iraq’s army proved itself in Mosul. Iraqi generals devised an effective strategy to retake the city. Iraqi soldiers fought and died to wrest the metropolis, block by block, from the terrorists.

For many years, the history of U.S. attempts to prop up other governments under siege from forces that ranged from communists in Vietnam to Islamic terrorists now has not been good. Too often, the indigenous armed forces have not been up to the task. That has forced Americans into the decision of allowing allies to fall or sending more of our best and bravest off to die far from home.

Neither alternative seems viable in the war against Islamic terrorists.

Now, the Iraqis have demonstrated they may be able to fight and win nearly on their own. That is a tribute to them — and a welcome reassurance to Americans.

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