Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Brilliant Success

That's how Prime Minister Maliki has described Bush's surge plan - dubbed "Operation Imposing Law." Violence is down in Baghdad (only 5 bodies were found in the city on Saturday; on a typical day before the troop surge started, 50 or more bodies would be found littering the city streets), the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias are lying low, and the car bomb attacks have stopped in the city.

So is this finally Mission Accomplished in Iraq?

Well, not exactly.

As I blogged yesterday
, the U.S. military believes the lull in violence is due more to the insurgents and militiamen lying low for the start of the much publicized troop surge than any actual progress in security conditions. In addition, violence has increased in other parts of Iraq as insurgents have left Baghdad for safer areas (the same thing has happened during previous security crackdowns.) And the violence hasn't completely stopped. Reuters is reporting that two simultaneous car bombs aimed at passing U.S. troops just went off in Baghdad, killing at least 10 people and wounding 40.

So it seems to me what Maliki terms a "brilliant success" is nothing more than a break in the fighting while the insurgents and militiamen wait out the troop surge. And why can they do this? Because the U.S. does not have the manpower to add more than 21,500 additional troops into Iraq, nor does the U.S. have the ability to keep the troops there long-term. The insurgents and the militiamen know this. So does Maliki (who seems to be using the "breathing space" created by the troop surge to crack down on Sunnis and better prepare his Shiites for the unbridled civil war sure to follow once the U.S. leaves Iraq completely.) The surge will end soon enough and they can go back to the business of sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing with abandon.

A troop surge would actually have a chance to work in Iraq if the United States had enough additional troops to send in for the long-term (say 150,000-200,000 additional troops.) There would be no guarantee that a long-term troop surge of 150,000-200,000 extra troops would actually work at permanently ending the sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing campaigns in Iraq. But it surely would have a better chance to succeed than the band aid surge of 21,500 for 3-6 months that Bush is trying. The bad guys can simply outwait and outwit this band aid escalation.

Once again, the real story about Iraq is not what the Bush administration and it's GOP allies are doing to win the war in Iraq vs. what those commie pinko tree-hugging pussy Dems are doing to lose the war in Iraq. Rather the story is how badly the administration miscalculated what it would take to actually secure Iraq (Rumsfeld thought the U.S. would only need 5,000 troops in Iraq by 2007), how badly they screwed up the first years of the occupation by ignoring the realities of the country and trying to create their own Ayn Randian vision of a tax-free business haven while the Sunni insurgency raged nearly unabated (Rummy wouldn't even admit it existed) and how they have continually been too little, too late in dealing with the insurgency, the sectarian violence and political problems that threaten to break up the country.

I think the violence will return but will be directed more at American troops. That is once the insurgents learn the patterns of the new troops surge.

This is the planning stage for them, the calm before the storm.

Just my guess here of course.
Apparently the calm already broke a bit with 3 car bombs going off around 3PM in Baghdad, killing at least 10 and wounding 60. But I'm with you on this, PT. I think the calm goes for a while until the insurgents learn the new routines and rotations of the iraqi and american troops. Then "Bam!" back to the terrorist attacks. And then the shiite militias have to respond in kind or risk losing face (and power) with their people.)
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