Thursday, March 29, 2007

Not Working

I've been hearing a lot on my television from the usual suspects (McCain, Lieberman, Boehner, et al.) that the surge in Iraq is working.

Is it really?

Today's news from Iraq via Reuters:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - Suicide bombers killed nearly 130 people in a crowded market in a Shi'ite district of Baghdad and a mainly Shi'ite town on Thursday, one of the bloodiest days in Iraq in months.

The upsurge in sectarian violence threatens all-out civil war and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, called for restraint and urged Iraqis to work with security forces to prevent the violence spiraling out of control. Bombs earlier this week in northern Iraq sparked mass reprisal killings.

Two suicide bombers wearing vests packed with explosives killed 76 people in a market in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad, police and medical sources said, in what appeared to be the latest of a string of attacks on Shi'ite districts and towns blamed on al Qaeda. More than 100 were wounded.

"It is impossible to tell the exact number of dead because we are basically counting body parts," said a Health Ministry official in Baghdad, who asked not to be named.

Most of the victims were women and children, who had been out shopping in the crowded market before the start of the nightly curfew, he said.

At about the same time, three suicide car bombs exploded within minutes of each other in Khalis, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, killing 53 people and wounding 103, police said.

Yesterday's news from Iraq via Reuters:

On Tuesday two truck bombs killed 85 people in a Shi'ite area of Tal Afar in northern Iraq. In the hours after those blasts Shi'ite gunmen, including police, shot dead up to 70 Sunni Arab men in reprisal.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, confirmed on Thursday police appeared to have carried out "retribution killings" after the bombings, which he blamed on al Qaeda. Iraq's Sunni vice-president urged the Shi'ite-led government to do more to purge the security forces of militias.

Reuters reports that:

While this crackdown has succeeded in reducing the number of deaths in the capital, violence has surged elsewhere.

So, technically the preznut's surge policy is succeeding. Violence is down in Baghdad. That's what the surge was designed to do. Unfortunately, violence is "surging" everywhere else, including in Tal Afar, the city that Preznut Bush pointed to last year as a "success story" in the Iraq war where the U.S. military was able to root out insurgents and turn security over to the Iraqis.

As TIME's Joe Klein notes today:

The violence in Tal Afar is all the more depressing because that city was the site of the most recent, pre-Baghdad experiment in counter-insurgency tactics. The estimable scholar-warrior Col H.R. McMaster led the effort, and Bush praised it at the time...and it fell apart as soon as the Americans left.

The point is, as I've said before: Counter-insurgency tactics are a wonderful idea that require lots of troops (which we don't have), lots of time (which we don't have) and a coherent, cooperative local government (which we don't have).

The surge is not working.

Unless you consider delaying the inevitable ignominious retreat and defeat to the next administration as the point of the surge, of course.

Funny how you have to dig for these stories now. If I search headlines on Firefox, or go to the Washington Post site, there is nothing on Iraq.

So I guess in that way, the surge is working: Baghdad is off the map.
That's definitely part of it, pt. They've tried to scare the media into presenting "positive news" from Iraq by calling them commies and pinkos and left-wingers and all that nonsense. So then you have a clown like Brian Williams go to Baghdad and get ferried around by a three star general and report that the surge is working while at the very same time hundreds of people are killed elsewhere around the country.

They're just trying to win the perception game now. Make people think the war is getting better and the surge is working but those pussy Dems cut off funding and cost us victory. That's the game plan.

But it's bullshit, of course. The surge is a band aid over a huge gaping wound. It has stopped a little of the bleeding in one place on the body, but the cancer underneath (the sectarian hatred) has not been cured and as soon as we move on the Shiite death squads (who have been largely silent throughout the surge - thus the "progress") will be back in business.
It occurs to me that Bush could turn the tables on the Dems a bit, had he some smarts. The House Dems are looking for an Aug. '08 withdrawal date to make sure Iraq is identified in the public mind entirely as Bush's War. As an added benefit, that date will ensure that any bloody aftermath will occur in the runup to the November election, and any loyal Repub comgressmen foolish enough to run will need to file an address change to the nearest landfill.

Bush, of course, wants the withdrawal and bloodbath (if any) to occur when he is safely back in Texas, or at least, after the election itself. Then the RNC can blame all the mess on the Dems, or at least try.

Were either Bush or Rove actually competent strategists, realizing that it was useless to try to delay the withdrawal indefinitely, the tactic that would minimize their political loss would be to declare, "You demand we leave, the Iraqis demand we leave, so we'll leave. Now. It's on your head." He'd then have the troops back home by Aug. '07, and to hell with Iraq. That way, the mess will have lost much of its stink with the public by the election, efforts to blame the Dems might not sound as irrational, and many more Repubs might survive.

I don't expect that to happen, however. First, Bush himself is a magical thinker, and believes that it will all work out because he's such a wonderful person. Rove is a mean-spirited bully who has no motivation beyond causing his opponents maximum pain. Backing off a nicely bloody war they can have others fight just wouldn't occur to either, and anyone that brought it up would be smacked down quickly enough. I could be wrong, but Hitler and Goebbels died in the bunker.

Take care.
They're just trying to win the perception game now. Make people think the war is getting better and the surge is working but those pussy Dems cut off funding and cost us victory. That's the game plan.

Yep, but they couldn't do it without a complicit media, could they?
pt, speaking of a complicit media helping cheerlead the war, check out this post about former NBC reporter John Hockenberry's experience trying to report the war at a major network owned by General Electric (the same General Electric w/ a multibillion dollar contract to redo the power grid in Iraq)

kicksiron, your point is a very good one. But I think Bush will never do it. He's too tied up w/ this war to ever let go and say "OK, do what you want, but let it be on your head..." kind of thing. At least, that's the sense I get.
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