Monday, June 18, 2007

The Surge, another progress report:

So it looks like things are going swimmingly in Iraq: Mosques getting blown up; bodies popping up everywhere, raging battles between al-Qaeda and our new Sunni friends in Anbar, battles raging between Shiites and Shiites, and Shiites and Sunnis -- you know, the usual. There is one little fly in the ointment, however (that progress report Petraeus is due to deliver to Congress in September might not be exactly what all those very nervous Republicans are expecting).

Although, the "surge" is now in full swing, Lt. General David Petraeus is starting to hint that we might be looking at -- as Rummy might have put it -- a long slog. Petraeus cautioned yesterday that, "Just about everybody out there recognizes that a situation like this, with many, many challenges that Iraq is contending with is not one that's going to be resolved in a year or even two years. In fact, typically, I think historically, counterinsurgency operations have gone on at least nine or 10 years." [AP]

Oddly, he didn't get around to giving any historical examples of these supposed successful "counterinsurgency operations" that go on for nine or 10 years. The French in Algeria and in Vietnam and our lengthy counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam come to mind as examples of the way things usually go with these sorts of things, but, who knows, maybe he has in mind another historical example of things winding up successfully for the occupying force. I guess, we'll just have to wait a decade or so and see what happens.

In any case, Petraeus explains the apparent upsurge in insurgent attacks and sectarian body counts as just a consequence of US forces going on the offensive: "The enemy is going to respond. That is what is happening." (See, it's actually a good thing mosques are blowing up all over the place.) This, by now, long worn-out excuse for higher casualties and the lack of any difference in the level of violence, is the same old crap Rummy used to blow up everyone's dresses, isn't it? If the surge, after lo-these-many-months, hasn't done anything to quell the insurgency, and has in fact caused the insurgency to redouble it's efforts at countering our tactics, then what's plan B?

And isn't the idea of sending 30,000 more troops into the vortex of Iraq to provide the Iraqi "government" with some breathing space so they can get on with finding a political solution to the problems that "everybody out there" agrees can't be resolved through military force? To me, it looks like we're playing whack-a-mole again and the Iraqis aren't even close to agreeing on anything.

In fact, Damien Cave writes in the NYT that the Iraqis are hopelessly deadlocked on all the issues the US wants them to resolve. Cave writes: "With three months until reports on progress are due in Washington, the deadlock has reached a point where many Iraqi and U.S. officials question whether Iraqi legislators will pass any substantive laws before the end of the year." ( Hmmm ... imagine that!)

"For a handful of party leaders with the power to make deals, the promise of compromise now carried less allure than the possibility of domination. Long suppressed Shiites and Kurds now see total victory in their grasp. . . Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told a U.S. commander Monday that 'there are two mentalities in this region: conspiracy and mistrust.'"

Our new War Czar, General Douglas Lute, when he was pressed by the Armed Services Committee to explain his initial negative opinion regarding the surge said:

"I registered concerns that a military 'surge' would likely have only temporary and localized effects unless it were accompanied by counterpart 'surges' by the Iraqi government and other, nonmilitary agencies of the U.S. government." [AP]

If the Iraqis are more concerned about screwing each other and solidifying their positions in their respective ethnic enclaves to the north and south, which they quite obviously are, then I don't see much hope of any breathing space being of any use, even if we could provide it, which we can't. Hell, these bozos can't even manage a quorum in the parliament on a good day, them getting around to passing any laws that might under-cut their positions of strength is just a pipe dream.

General Lute also foresaw the push-back from the insurgents that Petraeus is spinning as a good thing, too:

"I also noted that our enemies in Iraq have, in effect, a 'vote' and should be expected to take specific steps to counter from our efforts."

That's a very interesting way of putting it: They have a 'vote.' The way this administration always goes about this kind of thing they always ignore the fact that there's someone on the other side. Ignoring Hamas really worked out well, didn't it? Ignoring North Korea led to them making actual nukes, not just plutonium, and giving Syria and Iran the cold shoulder went a long way to last summer's Israeli/Lebanese war.

You can best-case every scenario all you want, but the insurgents are still there and they have a say in how the surge is going to turn out. Gambling (sorry "gaming") the Iraqi insurgents can't hang with us for another ten years is not a bet I would take. But then again, it's not like W. & Co. are risking their own blood and treasure, so why not play Iraqi roulette, what do they have to lose, right?


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