The Withdrawal, Stupid, not the Surge

The current McCain view of history is that the surge of U.S. troops into Iraq somehow “worked,” since deaths etc. have declined since not long after these troops were authorized.

In fact, anyone with real experience and insight into the Iraq situation knows that there were two distinct and unrelated reasons for the decline in troop mortality:

1. al Sadr, a Shiite, sitting in Iran, decided to stop fighting U.S. troops, and told his militia to stand down.  This was not because of the surge, but because he plans to run the country.  More in a moment.

2. In Anbar, a Sunni stronghold, the Sunni “awakening” meant that the Sunnis, instead of fighting U.S. troops, decided to fight al Qaeda, or whatever you want to call outsiders.

In both cases, the so-called surge was irrelevant.  IN FACT, it is much more likely that both Sunni and Shia realized the U.S. was going to withdraw, and so there was no mileage in losing their own forces in fighting us; all the mileage, for each side, would come from joining us.

If they thought we were going to stay, they’d still be bombing us today.  Rather, they understand, correctly, that the real battle will come after we leave, and they are allowed to continue a thousand-plus years struggle between their two camps.

Sadr’s strategy and the Sunni “Awakening” are the ONLY reasons for reduced U.S. mortality in Iraq.  McCain has it 180 degrees wrong.  Only when we became the lame duck, looking forward, did our enemies suddenly stop fighting us, and it was this decision, on their parts – not any slight, temporary increase in troop count – which led to fewer U.S. deaths.

The surge was irrelevant, and in fact probably risked re-igniting fighting with these two camps, which had already made the strategic decision to let us pass, before they get down to the real struggle.