According to John McCain, the decision to increase troop levels in Iraq has been an unmitigated success,
responsible for all that is wonderful about life there today. Even though
President Bush didn't deploy additional forces until 2007, McCain's
definition of the "...
According to John McCain, the decision to increase troop levels in Iraq has been an unmitigated success, responsible for all that is wonderful about life there today. Even though President Bush didn't deploy additional forces until 2007, McCain's definition of the "surge" -- which now apparently encompasses our entire counterinsurgency strategy -- was already working by 2006, easing violence in Iraq's Anbar Province. How can anyone, including Barack Obama, claim this isn't an obvious testament to McCain's prescience and foreign policy superiority?
Steve Chapman gives a nice rebuttal to this nonsense in today's Tribune, explaining that McCain's argument only holds up if one defines "success" by a very narrow metric -- namely, a decrease to pre-surge levels of Iraqi and American deaths:
The troop escalation has not been the complete failure Obama suggested it would be, but it has fallen far short of the triumph claimed by Republicans. The level of violence, though down from the very worst months of the war, remains at levels comparable with 2005, which were considered awful at the time.
Iraqi civilians died at a higher rate in the first four months of this year than in the same period of 2005. The number of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces is about the same. Here is McCain's definition of success: returning to a pace of bloodshed that was once regarded as intolerable.
What's more, such reductions in violence can't be attributed solely to the increase in troops. One has to also factor in the decision of Sunni militias to turn against Al Qaeda in Iraq, the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad and other mixed neighborhoods, and Muqtada al-Sadr's cease fire. All contributed to the current situation, and lumping them together under the "surge" label is disingenuous to say the least.
And what about political reconciliation, one of the primary goals of the troop increase? Former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi says little has been accomplished.
Reminding Rohrabacher that the original objective of the surge was to create a safe environment for a process of national reconciliation, Allawi said, “Now, militarily, the surge has achieved some of its goals. Politically, I don’t think so.”
Allawi rattled off a laundry list of perils that still confront the Iraqi people: internal displacement of large numbers of people, millions of refugees outside Iraq, security forces he described as sectarian militias dressed in national uniforms and no regime for enforcement of the national constitution, which he described as a “divisive” document.
The former prime minister, who is now a member of the Iraqi parliament, also alleged that the process known as “deBaathification” is “being used to punish people.” Originally designed to purge Saddam Hussein’s loyalists from military and security forces, Allawi said the process has become politicized and can be used against virtually anybody, since Saddam Hussein’s “Baath party ruled for 35 years, and every individual had to join…”
“So, if you measure the surge from a military point of view, it has succeeded,” Allawi said. “But I don’t think this was the [prime] objective, because soon you will have reversals. Security has not prevailed, and the key element in security is reconciliation, and building national institutions for the country. If this does not happen, then the surge will go in vain.”