Friday, August 1, 2008

Let's Talk More About 'Surges'

By Manifesto Joe

Ve haf von ze var?

That seems what the most obedient of the MSM would have the masses believe about Iraq. But it also seems as though we've heard such pronouncements before -- about a place called Afghanistan.

The Independent (U.K) reports that:

Violence in Afghanistan has reached record highs, with unprecedented numbers of civilian casualties and terror attacks spreading into areas once thought safe, a coalition of charities warns. In a damning indictment of the international community's effort to stabilise Afghanistan, more than 100 aid agencies claimed security is worse now than at any time in the past seven years.

"There has been a surge in the number of civilian casualties caused by all sides, a spread of insecurity to previously stable areas, and increasing attacks on aid agencies and their staff," the statement from their umbrella organisation Acbar said.

(The boldface emphases are mine.)

OK, these are different countries. But, one who's not wearing blinders, one not just following the GOParty line, can't help but notice parallels. We've heard all this before, regarding both places.

Mideast expert Juan Cole, writing on Informed Comment, noted some interesting things about the Iraq "surge" that I will summarize. Let's step back a moment -- in a country of 27 million people, the addition of 30,000 troops, from 130,000 to 160,000, made that much difference in the level of violence? No way.

Not that the violence was down all that much in a relative sense. It did reach a "low point" compared to other points in the war. But there were other factors that were probably far more important.

One that the U.S. has nothing to be proud of is a sort of ethnic cleansing that took place in many mixed Baghdad neighborhoods. The Shiite militias ran off (or killed) a lot of Sunnis. Baghdad is now much more Shiite in the absence of many Sunnis, and there are sharp dividing lines between the ethnic neighborhoods.

It's been said that there ain't nothing more peaceful than a dead man. The second most peaceful sort would be the one who ain't there -- he's split for Iran or Syria.

Another big factor was the bribery of a lot of Sunni factions to get them to join "us" and oppose the insurgents. That was a strategic move that started months before the U.S. troop "surge," and turned the tide in many parts of Iraq -- for now.

Here's the link to the Juan Cole article.

Another interesting perspective on this issue is from former U.S. Sen. James G. Abourezk, D-S.D., "The Surge Has Worked?", writing for Counterpunch.

In an election year, it wouldn't be proper to visit this topic without including something from Democratic nominee-to-be Barack Obama. Here's something pertinent on The Huffington Post.

What about McCain's views? Just turn on the TV, or pick up an MSM newspaper, and you can get that swill quite easily. This is an alternative medium.

I'm going to float a somewhat subversive idea, but one that should be mentioned sometime. Let's presume (probably wrongly) that the "surge" cheerleaders are right, and that the U.S. is within sight of "victory" in Iraq.

In the long view of history, it's not a good idea. I understand the argument that, once a course like this has been set, it's a good idea to see it through. Even if a mistake was made initially, it is imperative to "clean up the mess" as best we can, or so the argument goes.

The tragedy of that would be that it would embolden future U.S. administrations to undertake more such foreign misadventures. Let's not mince words here -- this was an invasion, an act of aggression, on the part of the U.S. Everybody knew that Saddam Hussein was a thug way back in the '80s, when the U.S. was arming him. What most of the world's people seem to realize now is that the contained Saddam was no real threat to the U.S., and that there's no good explanation for American actions there other than that Iraqis are sitting on an ocean of oil. There was no link to al Qaeda. No evidence of WMDs. All the rationale were hollow at the core, except for one.

I'm an American, and I hate to lose. But this is one in which "we've" been in the wrong, and "we" actually don't deserve to win. And, I'll make the comparison with Afghanistan and gamble -- over time, "we" probably won't. The best path seems to just find a way out and assess the damage over time.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

1 comment:

Marc McDonald said...

The MSM went all out to promote Bush's war in Iraq in 2003. "Journalists" like the NYT's Judith Miller worked hard to assure the American people that Bush's case for war was solid.

Today, the MSM is once again going to bat for Bush--this time, selling the notion that the surge was a "success."

There's really only one thing that's certain about the Iraq War. And that is that the outcome will be messy and inconclusive.

However, if the Bush team and the MSM play their cards right in selling the outcome as a "success," then they can convince a lot of Americans that the war was a glorious victory, after all.

If this seems unlikely to happen, note how many millions of Americans to this day fervently believe the Cold War was "won" by that bumbling, half-senile, mediocre B-movie actor Ronald Reagan.