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Daily Column
US Papers Tue: Opinion-Combat to Post Conflict?
Getting Back in the Game at Walter Reed, "The Surge" Book
By DANIEL W. SMITH 07/07/2009 03:00 AM ET
Another very light day for Iraq news. Though the death of Robert S. McNamara led to a few indirect Iraq references, and the Washington Post picked up an AP briefing of violence in Baghdad and Mosul, there really wasn’t much today, and nothing filed from Iraq. There was a piece on disabled veterans, a book review, and an opinion.

Opinion
IN the Wall Street Journal, John Nagl (president of the Center for a New American Security) and Daniel Rice (partner and co-founder of The Marshall Fund), both graduates of West Point who have served in Iraq, write that America must more effectively shift its focus from combat to post-conflict operations. Though millions are being spent on reconstruction, short-term needs are what is being paid-attention to, not sustainable development.
Instead of spending billions of taxpayer dollars for short-term programs, the enterprise funds could create long-term growth and employment in Iraq while giving U.S. taxpayers a return on their investment in the form of a share of profits going back to the USAID -- while appreciably diminishing support for the insurgency.

As we withdraw from Iraq's cities we must seek to replace our bases with businesses. An enterprise fund for Iraq is a good way to start the process of achieving victory through economic development.
Stateside
The Washington Post’s Alan Goldenbach reports on The positive effects of Wheelchair Basketball, played by amputee veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "When the war started I heard about these guys coming home and I wanted to do something to give back," said (Coach Jim) Glatch, who is not disabled and has coached at Edinboro since 1995. "These guys think athletics are shut off from them, but they're not."
That was the first lesson (Spec. Alex) Knapp had to learn. He lost both of his legs to a makeshift bomb in Iraq in March 2008. As someone who had grown up playing hockey in Shelby Township, Mich., Knapp, 23, was crushed by the thought of living without sports. "At first, I did think it was over," he said. "Then I learned how much there is for us to do. It surprised me, for sure. None of us believe we've left anything behind."

Before they hit the court, though, each patient needs to leave a critical item at the door: his memory. All of them viewed getting a prosthesis as monumental progress in their rehabilitation. It meant increased mobility and a clear path toward eventual independence. But when they got onto the basketball court, took off their prostheses and sat back in their wheelchairs, many returned to a place they hoped never to encounter again. Glatch acknowledged, "There's this thought that amputees should not get involved in wheelchair sports," because it could be a psychological setback.
Books
“The Surge: A Military History”, the newly-minted book by Kimberly Kagan, president of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, is out. Brendan Simms gives it a positive review in the Wall Street Journal. Though the review says the book reads in such a way as to suggest it was rushed to publication, it is still called “essential reading for anyone who wants to know how Iraq was saved from the brink of disaster.” Simms seems to writes from the point of view that all that happens in Iraq has to do only with Americans, but he put some real thought into the review.

Throughout 2007 and 2008, Kimberly Kagan followed events on the ground closely, traveled frequently to the theater of operations, and conducted interviews with senior and mid-ranking officers. In "The Surge: A Military History," she avoids the pitfalls of the war-reporting genre -- oversold incidents of dramatic action, fulsome adoration of warrior-leaders -- and instead gives a sober, blow-by-blow account of events as they unfolded. Along the way, she describes the strategy that proved to be so successful.
Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, no original Iraq coverage.
Comments on the US Papers roundup are welcome at dwsmithemail@yahoo.com


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