ASSESSING THE SUCCESS OF THE SURGE
It stands to reason: Take any district in Baghdad and put more of our soldiers in it than are there already. Leave them there for, say, 3 months.
Result? We can reasonably expect a reduction in violence and death, and a concomitant increase in pacification and security. It’s the same as if we took any neighborhood in New Yorkand and ‘upped’ significantly the number of police walking the beat in the neighborhood. Result? Less crime, probably (–unless the criminals take the “upping” as a personal affront. But let us ignore that possibility.)
The most positive indications on the surge so far are that it is working –sort of, to a degree.
SO, THE SURGE PLAN IS WORKING, RIGHT?
Well, yes and no.
When Mr. Bush laid out his “surge” plan on Jan 10th last, he tied the military “pacification” success of the surge to the political success of the Maliki Government. For there to be success, Maliki would have to resolve a number of pressing questions. He would have to achieve certain benchmarks of progress. (Our patience wasn’t endless.)
Unfortunately, this part of the plan is not working. They say you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. You can create the conducive conditions for Maliki action and resolution, but sadly we just don’t seem to be able to make him do it. Added to which, they are all off on a monthlong vacation –in Iraq, and in Crawford Texas– while blood spills. And money pours.
SO, OVERALL, THE BUSH SURGE PLAN HAS NOT WORKED?
Let us be clear: Mr. Bush’s surge plan called for two things –MILITARY “PACIFICATION” AND POLITICAL RESOLUTION. We have not had the Petraeous Surge Report yet –that comes on September 11th. When it does come let us be sure to assess it on what political resolution it produces.
IT DOES NOT LOOK PROMISING. And I am nervous that we will not hold Bush’s feet to the fire. Back in January he desperately grabbed –post 2006 election losses– at his surge change of plan to keep the war going somehow. But that was over 7 months ago, time enough for the scare to disperse and for the Bush Nature to hove back into focus. That part of the Bush Soul that never admits to a mistake, that apparently CAN NOT admit to a mistake, has been working overtime. In other words, BUSH OBDURACY. It’s never let him down; he always comes up with something; no one can pin him down. (And let’s face it, we all are allies in this –none of us is that great at owning up to our mistakes, even though we know it is the quintessential requirement for maturity.)
My guess is that he is convinced he will be able to talk his way out of this one, too. He can apply yet again the by now too-too familiar TERRORIST “fight them there, so… etc” SCARE ploy, the AMERICA NOT A QUITTER posture, the HONORING THE SACRIFICES thing, and all the other canards that have served him so well because no-one has found a way (or is it ‘the guts’) to call him on it; to oppose him effectively; to win the argument.
One of my fears is that the anger, blame and resentment that is aimed at Bush, he will find a way to turn against us. Let us hope that wiser and more determined heads will enter into the debate, and will prevail.
A Postscript. A few days ago Senator Warner made his proposal about cutting 5000 US troops by Christmas 2007, so as to send an unmistakeable “time is limited” message to Maliki. It is I believe a significant concept to throw on the balance at this stage, and I find myself slightly more encouraged –though still very apprehensive.
And –BEAR IN MIND….as we enter the debate…the following Malachi McCormick’s Blog Established Truths:
1. There is no Iraq.
2. There is that 1922 British map, with Churchill’s lines drawn around the oil.
3. There are no Iraqis. There are Shia, Sunni, and Kurds.
4. In 30+ yrs of Saddam Tyranny no “Iraqi” stuck his head out and got rid
5. Three, if they unite, can destroy a town.
Hold onto your hats.