[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Surge in Iraq Working?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Surge in Iraq Working?

I was more than a little surprised when I opened up the Sunday Herald, and right there at the top of Page One was a story on U.S. casualties dropping in Iraq.

How can this be? Didn't we just increase the number of troops with the so-called surge? That's right. And it makes perfect sense, too. The Herald article indicates that there is disagreement as to why an increase in troops would result in a decrease in casualties. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that insurgent terrorists want nothing to do with actual warfare?

I don't know, just a thought. But consider this quote from the article:

Supporters of the troop increase say the lower casualty figures show that the larger number of troops and the counterinsurgency approach of Gen. David Petraeus, the latest U.S. commander in Iraq, have turned Iraqi citizens against armed groups, putting them on the run and fracturing them.

''The population is progressively turning to coalition and Iraqi forces and making a positive difference in bringing security to their towns, villages and neighborhoods,'' Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 commander, said in August. ``They are pointing out extremist leaders, identifying caches and [improvised explosive devices] and asking to be a part of the legitimate Iraqi security force.''

And...

Most agree that a second reason for the decline is the dramatic change of conditions in Anbar province, where former Sunni insurgents have teamed up with American troops to rid the province of the group al Qaeda in Iraq. About one-third of U.S. casualties have been in Anbar province, but that has shifted since the troop increase began. In August, about 10 percent of U.S. casualties occurred there, compared with 30 percent in January, when the buildup began.

Shiites are fighting one another for control of the southern provinces. Some Pentagon commanders have told McClatchy that they think rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army left Baghdad before the built-up forces began to fight in the south. Throughout the buildup, Sadr has issued statements discouraging his followers from attacking U.S. forces and Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, most recently last week.

However...

Others, however, noted that as U.S. combat deaths have declined, deaths among Iraqi civilians have remained constant and the ''ethnic cleansing'' -- the street-by-street homogenization -- of Baghdad's neighborhoods has continued almost unabated.

While the Shiite Mahdi Army militia has lowered its profile in the capital, it has battled the rival Badr Organization of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council for control of southern Iraq. Two southern provincial governors have been assassinated -- many allege by the Mahdi Army. In northern Iraq, suspected Sunni insurgents killed more than 400 people in a coordinated attack on two villages, the largest terrorist act since the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

''We know a lot of them have left Baghdad,'' the senior Pentagon official said.

Basically what we have now are the militias fleeing Baghdad and continuing their bloodbath in other less secure areas of Iraq. This part still needs to be resolved, of course. But if the encouraging news from Anbar Province can be replicated with the same focus in other parts of Iraq, then the only question we'll be asking is: Why Didn't George Bush execute the surge sooner?"

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14 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

Of course, the Generals are just tools of the Bush Administration. You can believe them, or you can believe the non-partisan GAO whose much more critical report comes out Tuesday but a draft of which has been reviewed by the Washington Post here.

Being a staunch Republican, I suppose you will do the former, but, in any case....

Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.

The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. They are expected to describe significant security improvements and offer at least some promise for political reconciliation in Iraq.

[...]

The May legislation imposed a stricter standard on the GAO, requiring an up-or-down judgment on whether each benchmark has been met. On that basis, the GAO draft says that three of the benchmarks have been met while 13 have not. Despite its strict mandate, the GAO draft concludes that two benchmarks -- the formation of governmental regions and the allocation and expenditure of $10 billion for reconstruction -- have been "partially met." Little of the allocated money, it says, has been spent.

One of eight political benchmarks -- the protection of the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature -- has been achieved, according to the draft. On the others, including legislation on constitutional reform, new oil laws and de-Baathification, it assesses failure.


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2:01 PM, September 02, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

Hey Rick! Long time no hear.

I guess the Generals are just tools until they leave the administration, then they're objective analysts, right?

Oh and BTW, you can call me a staunch conservative. An (R) next to a politicians name doesn't guarantee that I will support them.

The first page of the WaPo article you linked says pretty much the same thing that the Herald article does. There are definitely differences in opinion as to why there have been less U.S. casualties. I believe that the surge is one valid reason.

The GAO report is obviously looking at a comprehensive list of things which need improvement. I have no problem with that, nor should anyone that wants the U.S. to succeed in Iraq.

2:28 PM, September 02, 2007  
Blogger Rick said...

I guess the Generals are just tools until they leave the administration, then they're objective analysts, right?

Actually, in many cases, yes.

Oh and BTW, you can call me a staunch conservative. An (R) next to a politicians name doesn't guarantee that I will support them.

Very true. It just depends how conservative they are and how far right on the scale they perch.

Hey Rick! Long time no hear.

I'm reading all the time, Robert. I'm open to hearing other's points of views and wouldn't stay away just because I didn't agree with what you're saying. Although, I suppose, there are those who tune out anyone who holds different opinions than their own.

Such a shame...

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3:42 PM, September 02, 2007  
Blogger Rick said...

You might want to view this, too, Robert.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhB0ZZAN394

10:18 PM, September 02, 2007  
Blogger Adam said...

I think we could all agree that if there were no american troops in iraq that there would be no iraq combat deaths in iraq. This makes the number of american combat deaths seem like a poor criteria for winning or losing the war. Since we didn't find any WMDs, we need to at least try to live up to the idea that we're there giving the iraqis a better life. So far that is far from what's happened. How many dead american servicemen are worth preventing a genocide in iraq. That's the question.

10:43 PM, September 02, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

Rick,

One can certainly question the strategies used in fighting this war. I sure do. But for Bill Moyers (who BTW is far from objective) to insinuate that our fallen soldiers' lives were lost in vain, that we have no good reason to be in Iraq, that the war is already lost, it is truly a real shame. Not to mention taxpayer-supported on PBS too.

In response to your previous comment: if you only knew how many Ds I've actually voted for in my lifetime. If I purposely stayed away from differing opinions, I would be a pretty lonely person. Fortunately that's not the case. Just ask those who really know me.

It's just that after a (long) while, after the same old debates and discussions go absolutely nowhere, it's time to move on. Some people don't mind being in perpetual disagreement with others over the same rehashed topics. For me, it's not worth it.

11:53 PM, September 02, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

Adam,

Problem is, Saddam Hussein had WMDs and used them against his own people. Can we safely say that we're better off without him in power? Can we also safely say that if we would have left Hussein alone, he would have been more than eager to catch up with his hated Iranians in the nuclear weapons department?

Think about it...not just one avowed U.S. and Western enemy in the Middle East threatening to develop nukes, but two. Let this go on any longer, and we won't be here talking about U.S. military casualties. We'd be talking about Israeli and U.S. civilian casualties in the tens of thousands.

12:00 AM, September 03, 2007  
Blogger Adam said...

Saddam Hussein had no WMDs, WMD program or nuclear program at the time we invaded. I think we can safely say that he wasn't really a threat to us, and that al Qaeda, which was before now nowhere to be found in iraq is now overrunning the place.

Now, if we were not overextended in Iraq we could flex a little muscle when it comes to Iran. Too bad we can't afford it now.

I think we can safely say that we were much much much safer before this war.

2:17 PM, September 04, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

The safer before the war argument can be resolved very quickly with this one unfortunate fact:

We thought we were safe BEFORE 9/11 when U.S. embassies were attacked in Africa and American lives were lost and a U.S. warship (USS Cole) was attacked with U.S. servicemen killed. All this while President Clinton hemmed and hawed and attempted to catch Bin Laden, and Saddam remained in power.

You may think these events aren't related, but when U.S. installations are attacked, the answer isn't to sit back and think about what might happen next. Perhaps sending a missile up Al-Qaeda's butt back in 1999 or 2000 would have made them think twice about sending two planes into the WTC.

We have a choice: we can sit back and wait for Iran/Iraq to acquire advanced (even nuclear) capabilities, or you can act on the best intelligence available to try to catch it early on. Unfortunately the WMD intelligence was faulty, but you know even the vast majority of Dems bought it back in 2002 and 2003.

4:55 PM, September 04, 2007  
Blogger Ziva said...

You know guys this shouldn´t be about partisan politics, but what is in the best interest for the long term survival of our country and civilization. If you believe that pulling out of Iraq will solve the problem and America will just go back to business as usual; you are either stupid or naive. Millions of Islamo-facists are ready to die to defeat us and put an end to our way of life. What´s your solution?

2:03 AM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Jonathan said...

What´s your solution?

Re-defeat Bush!!!

[/sarcasm]

1:06 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Adam said...

Too bad we didn't have your hawkish foresight when Bush took office and all but halted the attempts to hunt down bin laden and put al-Qaeda on the back burner. Sure Clinton made a mistake there, and he admits it, but he left office with terrorism as a top priority for CIA/FBI. Bush came in and put it off.

It took the towers falling to get him into action against bin Laden, and guess what priority it is once again, as bin Laden releases another anniversary tape mocking us while we are embroiled in an unwinnable war which has, by any measure of any intelligence agency lead to no less nuclear arms, more instability in the middle east, increased resentment for america, increased ease of recruitment for al Qaeda, ability of al Qaeda to operate from within Iraq, decreased international diplomatic sway for the US, decreased ability to conduct military operations where they are needed (Afghanistan and Pakistan), decreased ability to project force to Iran, as we are tied up and overextended in Iraq, loss of credibility in international community (means we are unable to step up and do anything in places like Darfur)... etc.

The intelligence was available to tell us that Iraq was not a threat. Numerous volumes have been published on how the administration selectively stovepiped the specific information that would allow them to appear to have a case for war, while specifically ignoring the preponderance of evidence refuting the case for WMDs and Nuclear program, including outing our own covert operative as a punishment for her husband publishing the fact that he had concluded that the Niger uranium documents were "obvious fakes", and had sent that information to Cheney before the president got up and used said obvious fakes to scare the public into war.

The administration knew there were no WMD programs, they knew al Qaeda was not in Iraq, they knew the Nuclear program had been suspended, they knew that there was huge factional tension in the Iraqi population.

anyway... you get the point.

1:17 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Rick said...

As I was saying.

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3:22 PM, September 24, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

When things don't go well, you have two solutions. You correct them, or you quit and cut your losses. It seems to me that some of these generals are willing to cut their losses and roll the dice with whatever Iraq ends up becoming, instead of working to find a better solution to WIN the thing.

That to me is what is most perplexing. As I've noted before, you can argue about whether we should have gotten involved from the start, and you can definitely argue about the strategies used once you're in. However, once you're in, do you want to win or lose? It sounds simple, because it really IS that simple.

I'm glad that it's that Bush hack Gen. Petraeus is in charge, not any of the ex-generals. At least Petraeus is trying to win.

4:30 PM, September 24, 2007  

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