02 July 2008

The Surge is Working

... just not in the way BushCo and their media mouthpieces would have us believe. Consider this report from The New York Times this morning:
"More American and coalition troops died in Afghanistan last month than during any other month since the American-led invasion began in 2001, the latest evidence of a strengthening Taliban insurgency that has menaced NATO forces and reclaimed control over some southern and eastern parts of the country. ...

The violence in Afghanistan has surged at the same time as the number of attacks and American deaths in Iraq have fallen. ...

The violence has spiked even as the number of foreign troops in Afghanistan approaches its highest level since 2001."
So, now not only are we not making much military progress and nothing resembling political progress in Iraq. In Afghanistan, where al-Quaeda existed prior to our invasion, we are losing ground too arguably because BushCo lied our way into Iraq and refuse to admit the disaster they've created. There is a legacy. Good thing there is a holiday weekend coming up. Maybe no one will notice.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to respectfully disagree with your analysis that the surge is not working, Jim. Are things in Iraq perfect? Far from it. But to say that the surge hasn't contributed to some sense of stability, and the beginnings of political reconciliation, minor and tenuous as the aforementioned may be, is, in my humble opinion, living in denial. Also, when you consider the surge was really just adding an additional 20,000 troops, it's hard to argue that the cost to benefit ratio hasn't been worth it. Compare Iraq now to Iraq in the awful year of 2005, a lot has changed! I think you suffer from this notion that you can't be against the war while at the same time acknowledging that the surge has proven beneficial, at least on some levels. If that's the case, it's too bad. You may just be too ideological for your own good. And I've always thought you appreciated pragmatism!

Now before you comeback with the argument that we should never have been there in the first place, let me concede that straight up: the war was a huge mistake. What's more, I'm not opposed to the idea of charging this administration with war crimes. That said, my concern is how do we deal with the shit pile these cretins left us with, without causing anymore chaos. Simply saying: "Let's get the fuck outta there" isn't very thoughtful now, is it? Since 2003, the reality for Iraq has been a complete dependency on the U.S. To simply sweep the carpet from under their feet could lead to a fiasco far greater than the Iraq invasion itself.

All that said, the surge was initiated in Iraq, and you're referring to the challenges NATO faces in Afghanistan. That's disingenuous.

02 July, 2008 21:02  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, I don't think we are looking at the same world.

The surge has improved the level of violence in Iraq somewhat. Yet a GAO report released last week recognizes that that progress is uneven and very incomplete: "the security environment remains volatile and dangerous." And even that improvement can be attributed to a number of factors other than or in addition to US military activity. That is not Jim, that is the Government Accounting Office.
(I posted on and linked to that report in a post on Sunday.)
Moreover, none of the political and economic aims for which the strategy was adopted has been reached. The Iraqis cannot take care of themselves or decide their own future. Again, that is the GAO, not me.

If the surge were a business it would be bankrupt. Unless, of course, you view it as a pre-commmitment strategy on the part of the administration to insure that we will be in that war zone for the foreseeable future regardless of who wins the 08 election.

As for the connection between Iraq and Afghanistan, I simply do not see how you can view them as distinct. We are wasting resources in Iraq trying to clean up a mess that never should have been made. A mess that was justified by lies. So our troops and dollars have been diverted from finding the people actually responsible for 9/11. That, after all, was the putative reason for the GWOT, no? Why not a "surge" in Afghanistan? Simple. We couldn't muster the troops or the dollars. The government there, as in Iraq and neighboring Pakistan, are, politiely put, unreliable partners. Finally, the NATO allies are not ever going to fill in the gap in our idiotic military adventures. I don't blame them,

In the end, BushCo has screwed the pooch on security policy.

03 July, 2008 08:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sympathetic to your position, I really am. My question, then, is this: what now? Do we just sweep the security carpet from under the Iraqis' feet, let Iran gloat and exert its influence beyond its borders, and face whatever energy price repercussions will ensue? With oil currently trading at $140+ a barrel, just imagine the immediate and astronomical price increase that will take effect immediately at the mere mention of a pullout. Also imagine the havoc such a price increase will deal on the global economy. I think middle class people are being squeezed enough, don't you? So how do we get out of this thing while causing the least possible damage? At this point, I'm tired of just being furious at this administration. It's too much energy wasted. We need practical, non-ideological, non-partisan, realistic solutions. We jumped into this thing thoughtlessly, but we can try to get out smartly.

03 July, 2008 16:30  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


Point taken. The first thing that would be useful is a straightforward admission that things remain a mess.

A second is that that mess may, in fact, be the intended outcome of BushCo strategy. Let's make it impossible for any successor to pull out.

A third is that Obama should simply say that there will be a pullout - and the Iraqis need to start preparing. At the moment they have zero incentive to do anything and (surprise!) they are not. (Inded, among the things they have not done is dealt with the internal distribution of future oil revenues.)

And Obama ought to then sketch his plan for a pullout in some reasonable detail. We have plenty of reports and so forth that all more or less converge on what the problems are 'on the ground.'

Then, absent dramatic reasons to do otherwsie, he ought to (gasp!) implement the withdrawal plan. Iraq is a mess with us there. It will be a mess when we leave. The US has no business being there.

that is not pulling the rug out from underneath anyone. It is called 'fair warning' - we are going to get out, that is what your population wants, and you, what passes for political leadership, need to figure out how to proceed.

Two side issues. (i) The Iranian government is nasty. We argee. They also already are exercising influence in Iraq. We cannot do anything about that.

(ii) As for oil prices, how about a smidgen of cooperation from our clients the Saudis? How about the fact that we get little of our oil from Iraq anyhow?

As a good middle American I'd rather pay more for gas than bury more kids for nothing.

03 July, 2008 20:01  

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