http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/24/AR2007062401379.html?sub=AR Reality Check for the Antiwar Crowd By Pete Hegseth Monday, June 25, 2007 EXCERPT As an Iraq war veteran who participated in combat operations and political reconciliation efforts, I take issue with some of the arguments repeatedly being made on Capitol Hill. Most recently I was bothered by statements from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who cited three common antiwar arguments in his June 21 op-ed, " Lincoln's Example for Iraq," all of which run counter to realities on the ground in Iraq. A deadline for withdrawal is an incentive for Iraqi political compromise. Levin thinks we ought to pressure Iraq's government with a warning tantamount to saying: "You better fix the situation before we leave and your country descends into chaos." He should consider the more likely result: an American exit date crushing any incentive for Iraqi leaders to cooperate and instead prompting rival factions to position themselves to capitalize on the looming power void. My experience in Iraq bore this out. Only after my unit established a meaningful relationship with the president of the Samarra city council -- built on tangible security improvements and a commitment to cooperation -- did political progress occur. Our relationship fostered unforeseen political opportunities and encouraged leaders, even ones from rival tribes, to side with American and Iraqi forces against local insurgents and foreign fighters. *The writer, a first lieutenant in the Army National Guard, is executive director ofVets for Freedom. He served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division from September 2005 to July 2006.