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August 23, 2007

The Surge is Dead
Posted by Michael Cohen

Today's release of the latest NIE on Iraq provides compelling evidence of something many of us have already suspected - the surge has failed.

Now I'm quite sure the President and his enablers will argue that the document's opening line supports continuing this failed policy:

There have been measurable but uneven improvement in Iraq's security situation since our last NIE on Iraq in January 2007.

See, it's a "A War We Might Just Win!" But what they will likely ignore is this more relevant point:

Broadly accepted political compromises required for sustained security, long-term political progress, and economic development are unlikely to emerge unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments.

This is, and always has been the rub of the issue. In the end, Iraq's only hope is in political compromise. Indeed, lest we forget, the entire premise of the surge was predicated on giving the Iraqis breathing room to move forward with political reform. In fact, here's what the President said when he announced the surge policy in January.

This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas.

As far as I can tell, no one in the Administration or elsewhere is arguing that there has been any progress with political reform in Iraq. Yet, at its core, the surge represented a coordinated military and political initiative. Indeed, the two are inextricably linked. So even if you buy the notion that the military effort is acheiving success, the lack of political compromise (or even long-term prospect of success) means the halting progress on security matters is frankly, irrelevant. This is particularly important when one considers that there is no military solution to Iraq's problems - a point on which there appears to be no disagreement.

As the NIE indicates there is no good reason to have any confidence in Prime Minister Maliki or Iraq's political leadership. Indeed it asserts that "Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively."

Considering that in the seven months since the surge was announced there has been virtually no political progress and that the Iraqi Parliament can't be bothered to even meet in August (at the same time that our troops are giving their lives to provide them political "breathing space") what possible rationale is there to continue the surge?

It's time to move debate forward to the issue that my colleague Suzanne Nossel raised in her earlier post - namely how do we get out of Iraq with a minimal loss of civilian casualties.

But as for the surge - that failed policy is dead in the water.


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Oh, you dreamers. The surge is not dead. Maliki will be driven out, and the argument will be, "The surge has made a difference militarily, which has opened a space for this new government to pursue the necessary political reforms. We need to give this new government more time." This policy will draw broad, bi-partisan support.

Just a guess.

Oh, you dreamers. The surge is not dead. Maliki will be driven out, and the argument will be, "The surge has made a difference militarily, which has opened a space for this new government to pursue the necessary political reforms. We need to give this new government more time." This policy will draw broad, bi-partisan support.

Yes, it should be good for at least one more Friedman unit.

The surge was a stall. The failed surge is a stall. How does the U.S. leave without more civilian deaths is a stall. The goal is perpetual limited war to bolster the U.S. economy. Victory nor negotiated settlement are acceptable, because the goal is not achieved with either. The alternative is to start another war of an acceptable size in another country. Hello, Iran! Some enemies are too few or too weak to have an effect on the U.S. economy.

The former Defense Minister of Iraq postulated an excellent plan that could bring about a negotiated settlement. It was not given consideration, because it did not achieve the goal. The Iraqi Study Group came up with a plan that succeeded in being another stall. The war lobby will not stop stalling on Iraq, until the policy of perpetual limited war can be waged against another acceptable target nation, and this time the war lobby will claim to have all its ducks in a row. It will be wrong, of course, because only a military genius can determine future events from a chaotic environment. Genius of this type is rare.

"I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people".--President Bush, Jan 2007

The Iraqi government will lose the support of the American People? You mean like the American government has? (see latest polls) Since when do people matter?

In other words, this was a throw-away line meant to impress Mr. Maliki and Americans weren't supposed to take it literally, because what the American people support apparently has nothing to do with anything, and more lives will be lost simply for political reasons. No progress in Iraq? No problem. The R's don't want to lose a war on their watch, and the D's want to appear strong on defense. So we're good to go until Jan. 2009 when the roles might be reversed, or not.

Bob's got it: Ex-PM, ex-CIA Allawi has a Washington lobbyist pushing his cause--he could be just what a failed surge needs to set things right. (cue the laughter)

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