Wednesday, June 6, 2007

too soon to call the "surge" a failure?

Bill Roggio has an item on the NYtimes report on the failure of the "surge".

so what do we know?

1. since the surge started, US casualties are up.
this was to be expected. the same effect happened in the past. but the level of casualties is extremely high. the may number (127) is only topped by two months in 2004, both of which were the result of heavy street fighting in Fallujah.
and while it was clear, that this fighting would stop soon, the situation today is completly different. expect the number to stay high.

2. General Petraeus had to admit, that the number of attacks remained at the same level.
i wouldn t exactly call this good news.

3. Iraqi civilian casualties are at the same level.
while there was a short term effect on a very specific type of violence (tortured bodies being found in Baghdad), there is no evidence that iraqi civilian casualties has gone down.
and we need to factor in, that violence has been shifted away from Baghdad, the center of media attention. so real casualty numbers likely are even higher that what we get to see.

4. Sunnis "unite" against al-qaeda
i ve written in the past, that i do not see this as a sign of certain progress, at least in the long term. but it s the single big indicator for a "success" of the "surge".

so what do we get out of it?

a) the "Anbar miracle" is completly independent from the surge. it was caused by an error by al-Qaeda. it s not linked to the surge in any way.
Bill is wrong in this comparison as well:
The leaked memo on the status of the Baghdad Security Plan is reminiscent of the report on the status of Anbar province that was leaked to the Washington Post in the fall of 2006. "The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there.
a strategy can fail, even though one wins the fight.

b) the current casualty numbers in Iraq are too high. the claim that the surge needs more time, just doesn t make sense under this point of view. this death rate is breeding hatred. ethnic cleansing is ongoing. refugees continue to leave iraq. the damage to the country is huge, every month. it just is impossible to have this going on.
the claim that nobody expected reduced violence 4 months after the surge of the war, is bizarre. the early "success" reports about "sectarian killings down by 60%" contradict this claim.
and finally, the surge simply doesn t have much more time. neither the political scene, nor the US military capacity allows for unlimited extension of the surge.

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