The Surge is Surging

In a few hours, both parties in the U.S. will undergo a strange, somewhat new (or at least updated) phenomenon called Super Tuesday. It might better be called, Take All Your Money and Burn It In A Big Pile to See Who Wins, but that isn’t poetic.

It seems to me that the entire tenor of the conversation among both parties is based upon a significant lie, and that, if it’s true, all of the campaign talk and debate has been warped away from what matters.

I am referring, of course, to the Iraq War, the top worry of almost all Americans – or at least, it was until a few months ago, when we were told that “the surge is working.”

Without getting into the details of how injecting (and/or just delaying the return of) an additional 25k troops could alter the policing of a nation Iraq’s size, I would like to immediately concede that, for a single city, Baghdad, this could be meaningful, particularly insofar as the surge was coupled with the new (at the time) awakening that we were not fighting a war against the people we were trying to help, but rather should deploy troops into the population to identify insurgents.

This change of tactic alone, perhaps better allowed by adding some troops, no doubt led to an improvement in parts of Baghdad.

Now I’d like to inject something important: I don’t know anything about Iraq, the military, or tactics, that anyone else doesn’t know, given access to the media.

Here is one thing I think I know: the strongest anti-U.S. military leader in the country, who happens to operate inside Baghdad, suddenly put down his arms, shut down his army, and stopped fighting U.S. soldiers. Guess what happened then? Baghdad casualties plummeted.

Did Sadr do this because of the surge? Not likely, since he had already had two huge military standoffs with U.S. troops and come out unscathed twice. More important, this happened BEFORE the surge, so no credit there.

There is one more important reason: all the ethnic cleansing (tribal murder) is about done now, with no mixed neighborhoods left. Is this a result of the surge? No, it’s the result of allowing the Shiites and various unnamed militia to run around killing people different from them for year after year, while the smart and the rich all departed for Iran, Syria and Jordan.

So much for Baghdad. Even more important is Anbar province, a years-long killing zone for the U.S. What suddenly happened there? We started working with the Sunnis, who are the majority, just as the Shiites we armed in Baghdad are the majority.

As soon as we gave them respect, police powers, and weapons, the Sunnis in Anbar Province literally switched sides, from insurgent to U.S. Word is they had become disgusted with the bloodthirsty attitudes of the insurgents. I think they just returned to ruling themselves, something they have been doing for thousands of years. We returned them to a new form of the status quo, just as we reversed ourselves on the Baath party this week.

THIS, too, happened just before the surge.

You didn’t notice? Yes, now that we have given up on the administration’s stated goal of the surge (national political progress, of which there is none, or less than none), and now that we have presided over ethnic cleansing by the Shiites in Baghdad, and armed the Sunnis in Anbar, all is quiet.

Is it quiet because we sent in 25k more troops? No.

Is it quiet because Sadr told his army to wait out this chapter, as we armed the Shia in Baghdad? Yes.

Is it quiet because the Sunnis are now armed and uniformed in Anbar? Yes.

Is it quiet because we have kept all of our troops out of Kurdish country, avoiding any conflict whatsoever through a complete lack of contact, ceding power to the warlords and their armies? Yes.

None of this, except as noted for some neighborhoods in Baghdad, had anything to do with a surge. In terms of Iraq peace, or U.S. casualties, the surge is irrelevant.

What matters is that the Iraqis seem to have figured out that there is no mileage in fighting us directly. Why bother, when you can buddy up, get armed, kill your tribal enemies, and take over your own province, all with U.S. help? Now THAT is a deal, and one it took the U.S. military a little long to figure out.

There is only one problem with the current, somewhat less violent state of affairs in Iraq. Since we did not cause it, we cannot control it.

Are we in control of Sadr? No.
Are we in control of Baghdad? Not if Sadr’s army starts fighting again.
Are we in control of the Anbar Sunnis? No.
Are we in control of the Kurds? No.

What would it take to start the whole thing up again? Convincing either side that we were not leaving soon might do it. How long are these folks willing to wait? I have no idea. But they will be well armed and ready when the day comes, of that we can all be sure.

The GOP candidates are all trumpeting the surge’s success; sorry, I think they’re idiots.

The voters seem to have accepted that the Iraq problem is no longer their main concern; sorry, I think they have misjudged what comes next. You say you don’t want to have three separate well-armed countries under a non-existent national government? Welcome to the new Iraq.

Is this a reason for debate over the war to be somehow considered over, or yesterday’s news?

For the Dems, it’s on to Healthcare and Super Tuesday.

For the GOP, it’s on to who can be the biggest Surge Hawk, since the surge obviously worked.

For me, it’s just more proof that Goebbel’s Big Lie really works: if you just say something often enough and loud enough, the media will repeat it, and the people will believe.

There is no democracy in Iraq, and we are the new Saddam, except we kill as many civilians per day doing business as usual as he did at the peak of his bad deeds, while gassing insurgents – in an area we don’t even dare send troops.

We’re supposed to just forget that this war was based on an intentional fabric of lies. We’re supposed to think the surge is working. We’re supposed to be good little citizens and move on to some subject of political debate less uncomfortable for today’s leaders, from Hillary to Mitt.

When you go vote tomorrow for your favorite candidate, ask yourself whether he or she has been intellectually honest about Iraq. If the answer is No, then vote for someone else. We’ll work on Healthcare the week after that.