Saturday, July 26, 2008

So What Really is Happening Iraq? Part I Is the "Surge" a Success?

Recently I have been pretty obsessed with questions concerning the Iraq war and occupation. I read about the Iraq situation regularly. However, I haven't blogged about it much at all for two reasons. The first is I don't post many blog entries anyway, but that I am trying to change that. And the second reason is that the situation is so complex and fluid it is hard for me to read something, digest it, and attempt to intelligently write something about it and make a cogent point.

So my solution right now is to just start posting entries by linking to internet sources of interest. Basically, the point is to raise questions.

So anyway, I have been quite skeptical that this so-called "Surge" is the unquestioned success it is said to be. And there are plenty of indicators that is hasn't been.

Juan Cole, of his Informed Comment blog has an interesting analysis in his July 24th entry entitled "A Social History of the Surge".

"For the first six months of the troop escalation, high rates of violence continued unabated. That is suspicious. What exactly were US troops doing differently last September than they were doing in May, such that there was such a big change? The answer to that question is simply not clear. Note that the troop escalation only brought US force strength up to what it had been in late 2005."

Juan Cole then goes on to argue that the drop in violence may have had something to do with the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis who fled Baghdad in front of the guns of Shiite militias. But this hardly can be seen as a process that is finished and a problem resolved.

"The Shiitization of Baghdad was thus a significant cause of falling casualty rates. But it is another war waiting to happen, when the Sunnis come back to find Shiite militiamen in their living rooms."

Cole goes on to discuss several other developments that led to some truces between warring factions and U.S. troops, and some reduced violence.

Cole has much more to say, and I highly recommend him to anybody trying to follow the situation in Iraq.

1 comment:

larryniven said...

I also have to wonder, and I hate to parrot the party line on this but here goes, what success means in this case. Is it killing the fewest Iraqis? Is it sustaining minimal casualties ourselves? Is it establishing their government to some particular degree? I think we've given up by now on dealing with terrorists, so that's probably not it, and they keep telling us it's not about oil. So even if the surge works - which, as you say, is doubtful - I don't see how anybody should get any kind of political credit for that, which is what the Republicans are trying to squeeze out of the situation. Why should we be celebratory about dodging a bullet that we shot at ourselves?

(P.S. - sorry 'bout the delay, I didn't know you were back to posting again)