“The surge is working.” Well, yes and no.

January 17, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More

Bush supporters, including some Republican presidential candidates, have been boasting lately that Bush’s troop surge in Iraq last year is “working.”  However, for several reasons, this claim is highly dubious.  First, there never were any clear goals stated for the surge, nor was any timetable ever given, so there actually is no objective way to tell if it is “working” or not.  Has it reduced violence as much as it should have or as quickly as it should have?  We’ll never know.

Second, and more significant, is the fact that military air strikes in Iraq increased by a factor of five from 2006 to 2007:  1447 bombs in ’07 versus 229 bombs in ’06.  Obviously, if America blows up enough “suspected insurgents” in Baghdad, it will (at least, in the short term) have a very chilling effect on insurgent violence.  What the military doesn’t tell us, of course, is how many innocent Iraqi civilians were blown up in the process — a fact that Bush supporters…and far too many other Americans…conveniently ignore.

Third, Iraqi leaders are probably seeing the handwriting on the wall:  American troop levels will almost certainly drop after Bush leaves office, so they’d better start getting their act together.  Of course, we don’t know if they really are working harder to quell the violence in their country, but I would bet that they are.

In sum, there are several reasons for discounting the assertion that Bush’s surge is “working.”  Nevertheless, there is one way in which we can all agree that it is working:  if the goal of the surge was to give political cover for Republicans running for elected office.  Before the surge, Bush’s “stay the course” strategy was an utter failure, yet it also seemed clear that killing enough Iraqis would eventually reduce insurgent attacks, so what better way to make it appear that Republicans had a clue what they were doing than by declaring a new strategy, bombing the crap out of Baghdad, and then (quickly, before violence returns to pre-surge levels) declaring that the new strategy was a “success?”  At least it gives Republican candidates better propaganda than they had a year ago.

Let’s just hope American voters don’t fall for it.

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About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Oh, yeah. The U.S. is occupying Iraq. I almost forgot. After all, on Jan 16th, 3 U.S. soldiers were killed and two others seriously injured and it got all of TWO SENTENCES of media coverage.

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    I'm so glad the surge is "working," because, the way I see things, it's not:
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/women-bombers

    Further to Erich's comment: the lack of MSM attention is exactly what the Bush Administration has always wanted. Sadly, the MSM obliges. It is one of the prerequisites to their goal of perpetual military conflict.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Hillary Clinton made a good point a while back about the surge "working." She pointed out that the Iraqis know American support will significantly drop after the election, so they know they must get serious about making progress. This, by itself, could explain the recent reduction in violence in Baghdad.

    Curiously, the evidence of Iraqis "standing up" has not been followed by any significant evidence that the U.S. military is "standing down."

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