Posts Tagged ‘troop surge’

Shhh, don’t tell Andrew

… he’s a simple sort of bloke, and he’s just back from a long holiday. Don’t go saying too much about this notion that Teh Surge != Victory!

Next thing you know, people will be suggesting that it’s unfair to call anyone who opposed the occupation of Iraq a staunch supporter of Saddam Hussein.

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Over at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Dan Froomkin has written a good analysis of what is missing from the “the surge has worked” perspective on Iraq. Froomkin discusses the argument about the surge made by Peter Galbraith. Some of the key points in Froomkin’s piece:

Certainly the surge has been accompanied by a dramatic and welcome reduction in violence. But Galbraith argues that it wasn’t the surge as much as other factors that led to the reduction in violence; that the main factor was the Sunni Awakening; and that the U.S.’s de facto creation of a Sunni army — led in some cases by the same Baathists the U.S. invaded Iraq to overthrow – has in fact contributed to Iraq’s breakup and set the stage for an intensified civil war between Sunnis and Shiites once the U.S gets out of the way. Whenever that is.

Galbraith thinks journalists are under-reporting certain key aspects of the current Iraqi political situation. Among them:

  • The character of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s  government, which Galbraith says is profoundly anti-Sunni and not likely to make accommodations, regardless of the occasional PR blitz to the contrary. Reporters should also talk to Sunnis and Kurds in the government and ask them how much influence they feel they have. Reporters in Washington should be asking their sources: Do you really see Maliki as someone who is committed to secular democracy?
  • The character of the Sunni Awakening. A hundred thousand Sunni fighters – used to getting paid $300 a month by the United States – are in fact not going to be easily accommodated by the Shiite government. And who knows what they’ll do when the U.S. stops paying them?

The linking of reduced fatalities to the coalition’s prospects for withdrawal is flawed. At least some of the proponents of the surge seem to know that – the Bush administration has committed itself to maintaining troop levels pretty much constant to the end of its term.

What is most important is attempting to ensure conditions that will foster lasting peace – which requires political, social and economic stability. That still hasn’t happened. For four years it seemed like there was little in the way of a coalition strategy toward peace in and withdrawal from Iraq. The surge then became the strategy, when it could only ever serve as one plank in a larger platform.

The debate itself still hasn’t moved. Many of the mouthpieces of the surge talk about Victory! without defining it. What everyone needs to be talking about is how to leave a stable Iraq.

UPDATE: And then there is the argument that the surge is not even responsible for the reduction in violence – such as this analysis, which suggests sectarian violence cleared out the hotspots for conflict.

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Yet again.

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Olbermann FTW

Well said, sir.

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Critical analysis

NPR does the job on Bush’s speech. Hurrah for public media.

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Holy uncritical crap, Batman!

Michael Costello (comments available here; I hate the GG’s awful system where articles appear once  as “Opinion” and separately as a “blog”) has an article today talking about the Petraeus “report” and the fact that the Democrats are “miffed” by it. Apart from entirely trivialising concerns about an occupation of a foreign country and the thousands of troops who are dying while it continues, he shows a completely uncritical acceptance, not only of Petraeus, but of a claim that was debunked weeks ago:

Two highly regarded analysts from the Brookings Institution, Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack, who describe themselves as “harsh critics of the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq”, wrote in The New York Times: “Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.”

Learn to fact-check (and here, and here, and here).

Petraeus pointed to the rejection of al-Qa’ida by Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province, which until earlier this year had been wholly controlled by al-Qa’ida.

Learn to fact-check.

But Petraeus said sufficient progress had been made to withdraw 30,000 troops by July 2008, with a review in March next year.

Because that’s when troops are going to have to be withdrawn with the military stretched to breaking point.


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Chain reaction

Obama criticises those who supported invasion.
Dodd criticises Obama plus those who supported invasion (specifically, Clinton).
Now, let’s get some action happening to reverse the policy of mistakes.

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Look at Anbar

A fundamental principle of causation is temporal sequence – a cause has to occur before an effect.

Here’s the problem for those who point to Anbar Province as an example of the surge’s effectiveness.

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All by mouth

The latest word is that there will be no written “Petraeus” report at all.

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O’Hanlon vs Roget

Who knew that “overly rigorous” and “flat-out sloppy” were synonyms?

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