Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Things are Going Much Better...Boom!!!

Each time the announcement is made that the coalition is getting the upper hand on the insurgency, another large scale attack occurs. Is it because the insurgency wants to prove the announcement wrong, or is it because the insurgency wants to give everyone a false sense of security and then further demoralize them? I suggest we stop announcing that we have things under control when we really don't.

The Christian Science Monitor reported the following from Nouri al Maliki yesterday regarding the Baghdad security crackdown:

Two days of relative calm in the capital prompted Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to declare a "dazzling success" in the security clampdown, as officials reported an 80 percent drop in violence.

That was before yesterday when sixty people were killed in dual car bomb attacks in a market area. And before a US military installation was attacked and 3 soldiers were killed and several others wounded.

That was before today when when a suicide bomber insinuated himself into a funeral procession and killed at least 18 people.

This seems to be the modus operandi of the insurgency. Periods of relative calm followed by a shattering of that calm. I'm not sure where the correlation lies. Is it because of the deliberate psychological effect of shattering a false sense of security? Is it because they want to prove wrong them (Coalition Provisional Authority, US Military, Nouri al Maliki) who announce that things are going much better? I think it's the latter.

Maybe the trend of violence and death really is down. Maybe it's a good thing to talk in terms of reduced numbers of deaths. But that is a precarious supposition anyway, especially when many insurgents seemed to have left Baghdad until the 'storm' clears. Last February, we were sure we had turned a corner because the number of US deaths was the lowest in several months. And then boom!!! The Samarra Mosque was bombed.

I guess my underlying point is this. From square one, we have underestimated the insurgency. And we continue to underestimate the insurgency. We needed 3 times as many forces in Iraq than we had following the invasion. And we need that many now. Iraqi military forces have made significant improvements, but not to the tune of the 250,000 more US troops we need. Insurgents can still come and go essentially at will.

It would be wonderful if it worked, but I don't imagine that the surge will work. The insurgents will continue to strike with abandon until we have enough forces to ensure that they cannot come back to the strongholds that we flushed them out of. There are places near Baghdad that we have not even patrolled yet. There are "black" areas that we do not even patrol because of their danger.

I'm sure the surge is making things marginally better in Iraq, but it's ironic to say that we're having "dazzling success". It encourages people to put their guard down so that they're ripe for the next knockout.

Until we start doing it right, it's going to be a long and usually discouraging haul, punctuated by periods of apparent gain, which are then followed by large scale attacks to remind us that we're really not doing it right. Until we stop fooling ourselves, we won't take the steps necessary to bring true peace to Iraq.


Rich Warnick said...

Don't be so sure the so-called "surge" is making a difference yet, since it's really a trickle. The extra 48,000 won't finish deploying to Iraq for three more months.

WP said...

A Question for you, Mr. Bush and his supporters...

In 661 AD the fourth of the successors to the Prophet Muhammad, the Caliph Ali, was assassinated in the city of Kufa, which still exists in present day Iraq. He was killed due to sectarian violence in his Islamic world. Ali’s remains were taken and hidden and now rest in present day Najaf Iraq.

Ali occupies a pivotal position in the history of Islam. He is viewed by the Shi’a as the first Imam and they trace their roots to him. He is viewed by the majority, the Sunni, as the fourth rightly guided Caliphs in line of succession to Muhammad. Ali’s predecessor, Uthman, was also murdered.

The third holiest of shrines for Shi’a Muslims is a Mosque in Najaf where his remains reportedly were buried. The Mosque has been at the center of continuing strife as Shi’a radicals took refuge there fighting with US troops and it sustained minor damage. The shrine has been the target of suicide bombers since the beginning of the Iraq War.

My question for you and the Bush administration and any Republicans left who are still supporting the Iraq War is this: “Given the fact that Islamic sectarian warfare and violence has been going on in Iraq for nearly 13-1/2 centuries, will a troop surge of 20,000 GI’s lead to any sort of peaceful resolution of conflict in that troubled land? If we stay in Iraq a year, even 10 years will be be able to solve for the Muslims/Iraqis what they have not been able to solve in nearly 1400 years?

I posted this on my blog at: