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Things Better in Iraq?

January 29th, 2008

Bush is expected to claim credit for the “Surge™” working in Iraq in his SOTU speech tonight. And it certainly looks like it’s working; The surge started in February 2007, and sure enough, by late summer, casualties began to drop. Wow! The “Surge™” worked! Of course, the real measure of success would be for the Iraqi government to take advantage of the drop in violence and make peace, settle things down–and sure enough, recently, a “re-Baathification” law was signed, signaling peace between the factions. Wow! The “Surge™” is a success!

Of course, it’s all BS. The violence in Iraq did not drop because of the surge; it dropped because, in one of the most under-reported news stories (gee, I wonder why) of 2007, Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Mehdi Army which is responsible for most of the violence in Iraq, unilaterally declared a six-month cease fire. The reason: so his militia can be prevented from splitting into factions and fighting amongst themselves. It was only after al Sadr’s cease fire that the violence started to drop significantly, and no wonder. The surge was not a factor here.

Moreover, the “de-Baathification” law, which in theory should allow the Baathist Sunnis to rejoin the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, is not what it appears. The law was created and pushed by strongly anti-Baathist Shiites, and the Baathists themselves opposed the law. The reason: the law is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which would actually wind up excluding Baathists, banning them from taking on any real, influential positions.

So Bush is going to step up to the podium tonight and declare that the “Surge™” is a military and political success. However, the drop in violence is due to a temporary cease-fire which ends in about a month, and the political situation in Iraq remains stagnant, if not getting worse.

Update: Case in point: Iraqis can’t even get together on a new flag. Why? It’s de-Baathified.

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  1. Tim Kane
    January 29th, 2008 at 12:19 | #1

    Well, I’m not expecting him to tell the truth. The real question is, what lie he would tell, and how brazen it would be, and how compliant the media would be as a result.

    I fully expect a most brazen an out right lie as you can imagine. He’s running out of time – soon the threat of retaliation against a wayward journalist, or publication, won’t resonate or be effective, at least as it once was. Still he’s got the right wing corporate media behind him, so what’s to stop him?

    I haven’t heard of any journalist ask him, if the ‘surge’ wasn’t tacit admission that General Shinseki, the General he fired for calling for higher troop levels to police Iraq before the war even started, was right all along, and Bush wrong? That after four or five years of being wrong.

    Secondly, to the extent that the surge is working, is only in comparison to the level of disaster before the surge. It’s the old Rodney Dangerfield effect (if you want to look thin, stand next to someone fatter than you). In objective and absolute terms, Iraq is still a dysfunctional mess of his creation. And that’s not including the trillion dollars that’s been thrown at it. I don’t see real estate speculators over there planning new developments. I’m not aware of any westerner feeling safe outside the green zone.

    When he walks off the stage tonight, lets wish him good riddance.

  2. A Republican
    January 29th, 2008 at 21:25 | #2

    Let’s vote in a Democrat and bring on the recession.

  3. Luis
    January 30th, 2008 at 02:47 | #3

    Too late. Bush already beat them to the punch.

    Instead, we’ll have to settle for the economic recovery that Bush claimed but never actually delivered, and–even if this Democratic president is the worst Democrat in 100 years on job growth–we’ll see better job growth than under any Republican president in a century.

    I know, I know… Republicans hate the prospects of a booming economy, shrinking deficits, and job growth, so long as a Democrat is in office. (And often they are quite happy without any of those so long as a Republican is in office.) It offends their fantasy view of the world, and so much effort must be redirected to denial. All that work, claiming that good stuff always came from the most recent Republican president, and all the bad stuff under Republicans came from the most recent Democrats in power (had Clinton not been president, Jimmy Carter would still be getting blamed by Republicans for every economic downturn… and I am not kidding). I foresee a weary eight years for right-wingers, filled with raging efforts to smear, prosecute, obfuscate, and lie their way back into power. Little wonder you want to get it over with.

  4. Tim Kane
    January 30th, 2008 at 06:07 | #4

    Was there ever a time under Bush when we didn’t have a recession?

    Under Bush median family income has declined, while the top .01% has gone up over 500%.

    For the average American family, economic security has virtually collapsed while cost have gone up throught the roof for: healtcare, food, energy and education. Millions of Americans are in danger of losing their homes.

    Meanwhile the deficit has ballooned while the value of a dollar has shrank. Any net gains in GNP during Bush’s tenure are wiped out by the devaluation of the currency.

    And that’s not bringing up the Iraq fiasco, where we have spent roughly the GNP of Spain ($1 trillion) to conquer a nation’s who pre-invasion GNP was less than $52 billion.

    Foster Brooks, in his most drunken state would have made a better President. That is, unless you are in the top .01%

  5. A Republican
    January 30th, 2008 at 06:52 | #5

    Thanks to Bush. The median subprime families were able to obtain a house mortgage.

  6. Luis
    January 30th, 2008 at 08:21 | #6

    OK, I get it–“A Republican” is actually a Democrat, and he’s lobbing us softballs. Should have seen it from the start, sorry…. :)

  7. Tim Kane
    January 30th, 2008 at 12:28 | #7

    Thanks to Bush median families are viewed as ‘subprime’: only the top 1% count!

  8. January 31st, 2008 at 12:18 | #8

    Luis, you left out the other major thing that has reduced violence in Iraq; the fact that many Sunni local tribesmen have turned against Al-Quida In Iraq, which was/is made up of a high percentage of more fundamentalist foreigners.

    These Sunnis aren’t doing it because they want a better Iraq, or because they’re part of some movement to unify the nation; they still hate the Shiites as much as they always have. They just got tired of the AQI crap and it’s brand of much more fundamentalist viewpoints, plus they felt like AQI (a Sunni group) shouldn’t be out there killing and torturing other Sunnis.

    The Sunni chieftans feel the torture and killing should be reserved for the Shiites.

    For now, they’re working with the US. If/when that doesn’t work for them, they’ll happily start bombing and attacking us again.

    The surge has to be drawn down at least a bit, because we don’t have the troop numbers required to keep it going. But Bush and the R’s have been painting it as though they CHOSE to draw down strength levels because things are going so well.


  9. Luis
    January 31st, 2008 at 18:33 | #9

    Paul: good point. I knew about that, but for some reason did not recall it when writing the post. The basic theme is, all the reasons for a decrease in violence are reasons that bode poorly for the future.

    As for civilian violence dropping, there is also the point that there are not many people left to kill. Those that remain in areas previously engulfed by sectarian violence are now in sharply segregated neighborhoods, often with only a few entry/exit points, guarded, which make deadly attacks less likely. This also does not bode well for the future.

    In short, a lot of stuff looks good, but is only positive in the short term. From any long-term perspective, things are just as bad, if not worse, than they ever were before.

    As I have said before, this depresses me. For all the intense pain it would cause me to give credit to Bush by calling the war and/or the surge a success, I would gladly do so if it were true. I would still fault Bush for poor planning and execution, and would probably conclude that Bush lucked into success. But I would happily recognize and applaud actual success.

    The problem: such success does not exist. All things considered, the U.S., Iraq, the Middle East, and the world in general would all be better off if Bush had never invaded and Saddam were still contained.

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