This whole debate has this aura of unreality about it, at least on the Democratic side, because they keep talking about events in Iraq that do not comport with the reality on the ground over there. You hear it again and again. You hear it in the attitude they have, you know, they’re going to force troop withdrawals, impervious to the fact that troop withdrawals have already begun. It’s happening.
No, it is not happening. By removing the additional troops brought in for the surge and taking us back down to pre-surge levels, right where we were a year ago, Bush is doing the Hokey-Pokey - not implementing an actual Troop Withdrawal.
It should be noted that violence does seem to be going down in many parts of Iraq as a result of Sunni Tribal leaders turning against and fighting al Qeada, a trend that began four months before the Surge was even announced, but what should also be noted is that the Political Reconcilliation - which was the entire POINT of the surge - hasn't even begun yet, and isn't likely to begin anytime soon.
So is the violence down because of the Surge or the Sunnis?
Or was it possibly both? Were the Sunni's emboldened by America's new found commitment to their security? Well according to the Iraq NIE for 2007, not so much.
August 24, 2007 : Yesterday, the National Intelligence Estimate reported “measurable but uneven improvements” in the security situation in Iraq. While the White House has rushed to suggest that the modest gains were the result of escalation, the improvement can more plausibly be the product of Iraqi expectations of a U.S. withdrawal.
" “[F]earing a Coalition withdrawal, some tribal elements and Sunni groups probably will continue to seek accommodation with the Coalition to strengthen themselves for a post- Coalition security environment” [...]
“The IC assesses that the emergence of ‘bottom-up’ security initiatives, principally among Sunni Arabs and focused on combating AQI, represent the best prospect for improved security over the next six to 12 months, but we judge these initiatives will only translate into widespread political accommodation and enduring stability if the Iraqi Government accepts and supports them.”"
Now why would Iraqis have been anticipating a withdrawal of U.S. Troops - Four Months Before Bush initiated the Surge? Could it have been the fact that was September of 2006, just when the Democrats were poised to take control of both houses of Congress?
I think it could.
There is of course a secondary reason why violence levels have decreased - simply put - they're running out of Iraqis to kill.
Joe Christoff of the GAO: I think that’s [ethnic cleansing] an important consideration in even assessing the overall security situation in Iraq. You know, we look at the attack data going down, but it’s not taking into consideration that there might be fewer attacks because you have ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, particularly in the Baghdad area. [...]
Then there's the fact that those that haven't been killed outright - have simply fled.
BAGHDAD, Aug. 23 — The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has soared since the American troop increase began in February, according to data from two humanitarian groups, accelerating the partition of the country into sectarian enclaves.
The data track what are known as internally displaced Iraqis: those who have been driven from their neighborhoods and seek refuge elsewhere in the country rather than fleeing across the border. The effect of this vast migration is to drain religiously mixed areas in the center of Iraq, sending Shiite refugees toward the overwhelmingly Shiite areas to the south and Sunnis toward majority Sunni regions to the west and north.
All of this information was available two months ago when the NIE was released. Today we have the update that the withdrawal of British Troops from Basra has reduced the violence by 90%.
Britain's 5,000 troops moved out of a former Saddam Hussein palace at Basra's heart in early September, setting up a garrison at an airport on the city's edge. Since that pullback, there's been a "remarkable and dramatic drop in attacks," Binns said.
"The motivation for attacking us was gone, because we're no longer patrolling the streets," he said.
Last spring, British troops' daily patrols through central Basra led to "steady toe to toe battles with militias fighting some of the most tactically demanding battles of the war," Binns said. Now British forces rarely enter the city center, an area patrolled only by Iraqis.
In mid-December, British forces are scheduled to return control of Basra province back to Iraqi officials — officially ending Britain's combat role in Iraq.
So what all this tell us class?
- That when you stop being a target, people stop shooting at you.
- When people stop shooting, less people get killed.
- When less people get killed, it tends to generally resemble at status often called "Peace", although "Victory" may also be an acceptable answer.
- And lastly what does "The Surge" have to do with any of this?
That's right class - "NOTHING!"
Update: One skeptical commenter to the Dkos version of this post stated.
Why for a minute there I was beginning to think that we may actually have a military command that was capable of deep analysis of the situation in Iraq and building a strategy of tactics based on those results........
What a waste of taxpayers money, all the US military command have to do is come here and read diaries like these and...voila they got the answer.....
Sheesh......it's all so clear now.....
To Which I say...
You mean Military Commanders like General Ricardo Sanchez, former head of Operations in Iraq?
In one of his first major public speeches since leaving the Army in late 2006, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez blamed the administration for a “catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan” and denounced the current “surge” strategy as a “desperate” move that will not achieve long-term stability.
“After more than fours years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism,” Mr. Sanchez said, at a gathering here of military reporters and editors.
“There was been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders,” he said, adding later in his remarks that civilian officials have been “derelict in their duties” and guilty of a “lust for power.”
General Richard Cody, Army Chief of Staff who said we're spending too much time fighting insurgents.
General John Batiste, Former Commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq.
Mr. President you did not listen (to the Commanders on the Ground) and continue to persue a failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps.
Batiste also stated that Donald Rumsfeld...
...served up our great military a huge bowl of chicken feces...
Then there's the other 19 Retired Generals who've spoken out against the war.
In op-ed pieces, interviews and TV ads, more than 20 retired U.S. generals have broken ranks with the culture of salute and keep it in the family. Instead, they are criticizing the commander in chief and other top civilian leaders who led the nation into what the generals believe is a misbegotten and tragic war.
As well as young Military Officers...
One question that silenced many of the officers was a simple one: Should the war have been fought?
“I honestly don’t know how I feel about that,” Major Powell said in a telephone conversation after the discussions at Leavenworth.
“That’s a big, open question,” General Caldwell said after a long pause.
And Active Duty Members of the 82nd Airborne who thoroughly rejected the idea that the Surge had been "successful".
The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. […]
In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.
To all this, particularly the call by at least 8 Generals for Rumsfeld to be fired, Bush said:
“My reaction,” Bush would recall of the so-called General’s Revolt, “was, ‘No military guy is gonna tell a civilian how to react.’”
The fact is that "The Surge" was not a plan that was developed by the military, it's a political strategy that came from the Armchair General's at the American Enterprise Institute.
the DC Examiner reports today that “a bunch of arm chair generals in Washington” from the American Enterprise Institute “almost single handedly convinced the White House to change its strategy” in weekend meetings last December. The AEI escalation plan reportedly “won out over plans from the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command”:
Is that kind of "deep analysis" you were speaking of?