The Surge Five Years Later
PG wrote feature five years ago about Iraq. It was prompted by an op-ed in the New York Times, A War We Just Might Win. The NYT said, things are bad in Iraq, but we might win anyway.
Looking back, this was the start of the “surge”. This program had two parts. There was a change in stategic focus in Babylon. Additional troops were sent. They were not greeted as liberators.
In America, the press started to say we were winning. Since most people did not have access to information from Iraq, they took the word of the media. When the msm tells you what you want to hear, it is the truth.
In 2012, the combat troops are out of Iraq. America still has a substantial presence there, as well as an ongoing war in neighboring Afghanistan. The horrific sectarian conflict in Iraq has calmed down, although people are still being killed. The Iraqi government is friendly with Iran. The American War machine may visit Tehran soon.
Whether of not we “won” in Iraq is open to debate. Whether this “liberation” is worth the army of widows, and the destruction of the American economy, is a good question. Here is the story from 2007.
An op ed column in the “liberal” “msm” New York Times about Iraq is getting a lot of attention. The question arises, can a word of it be believed?
After all, in war, the first casualty is truth. In this conflict, truth took a beating in the runup to battle, and has been hard to come by ever since. A complicating factor is the battle for public opinion in Amerika. Without the support of the public, the powers that be in Washington cannot sustain a war effort for very long. This struggle for public opinion is a feature of modern war that some seem to understand well (Israel comes to mind), and that the neocon morons that begot this struggle are oblivious to. Of course, Halliburton gets paid whether we win or lose, and the Chinese investors buying chunks of our national debt are not interested in the freedom of the Iraqi people.
In a Vietnam flashback, the concept of “victory” is fuzzy, unless it is napalm in the morning. If Victory is setting up a government in Iraq that can function, without being a threat to American interests, that may happen in the next administration. If the idea is to get Sunna and Shi’a to hold hands, sing KumBahYah and roast marshmallows, we might have to stay until the 22nd century. If our objective is to destroy Al Queda (fight them there so we won’t have to fight them here), then we may want to consult Zager and Evans about the year 2525.
Lets get back to A War We Just Might Win. Turn your bs detector down for a while.
A second reading of the editorial leaves one with a sense that the management of the paper told the authors to write a positive piece, possibly to quiet criticism of the paper. Many paragraphs have a sentence or two, with a concluding third sentence that has little to do with the supporting statements. Here is an example:
Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.
There really isn’t much to add. However groovy the killing gets, if Iraq doesn’t get it together politically, we are losing. This is a patch of real estate without a democratic tradition, which has been ruled by foreign powers, and dictators, since the time of Sheharazade.
The one bit of concrete good news to come out lately is the Iraqi people getting tired of the foreign fighters, including Al Queda. It has been suggested that we are buying this “loyalty”. It remains to be seen what will happen here. Incidentally, the United States just finalized an arms deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. How many of those weapons will find their way to the fighting in Iraq? (And would Israel get involved in all this Arab killing? Who says it hasn’t already?)
A clue to how long we may need to be in Iraq was provided by this story, “Northern Ireland: End of an Error” . The British army’s longest continuous military operation comes to an end at midnight tonight when responsibility for security in Northern Ireland passes to the police. Operation Banner lasted 38 years and involved 300,000 personnel, of which 763 were killed by paramilitaries. The last soldier to die was Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick, who was shot at a vehicle checkpoint in 1997. This was a visit to a region of the confederation. It was a district with a similar culture. The troops were there 38 years.
Pictures are from The Library of Congress. Video is from WTF Japan Seriously