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The Surge: Why Not See It As It Is?

August 12th, 2008

Kevin Drum quotes a general:

The surge did not create the first of the tribal “awakenings,” but it was the catalyst for their expansion and eventual success. The tribal revolt took off after the arrival of reinforcements and as U.S. and Iraqi units fought to make the Iraqi people secure.

Drum then ponders, “I’m not sure why surge supporters seem averse to making this argument directly.” I know why: if the surge were portrayed accurately, then McCain and Bush could not be given credit as smart, forward-thinking planners. That’s their entire angle on the surge: “we were right!”

Only they weren’t. At the time, the surge was a bad idea; had it not been for the fortuitous tribal awakenings and the Mahdi Army cease-fire, the surge would have resulted in very little gain, and maybe would have had a negative effect. But McCain and Bush lucked out–events on the ground which were totally beyond their control made the surge into something that brought a more positive outcome (the true depth and permanence of the positives are still far from a certainty).

This is not the image that McCain wants to project, however–he wants to be the able commander, not Homer Simpson. So the history gets re-written, where McCain takes credit for the awakening, even if he has to completely re-write the definition of what a “surge” is.

  1. Tim Kane
    August 12th, 2008 at 13:36 | #1

    In other words, the ‘surge’ was neither cause nor effect. It was just coincidence.

    As I heard Neocon Bolton say once on television, even a broken clock is right twice a day – oh, the irony.

    A better meme for Obama/Dems is judgment (this is something Kerry completely neglected four years ago). Bush was wrong about neglecting Afghanistan, he was wrong about Iraq and now it turns out, he was wrong about Putin and how to deal with Russia, especially vis-a-vis Georgia. And that piece-of-work Secretary of State, who’s been a complete disaster almost everywhere, the one thing she’s supposed to be an expert at is Russian area studies. The Georgia affair is an utter and complete disaster. These people are a complete disaster.

    I’ve held, since September 11, that Bush should have called for a draft on September 12th, 2001.

    Why? Because we weren’t sure on 9/12 whether we were looking at a micro war or an area wide war as our response to 9/11 – and we didn’t know if actions there wouldn’t mean some other party somewhere else making a move: In the spring of 2001 we had a stare down with China over a spy plane in the South China Sea, and a large war in the Middle East might mean wayward activity from the North Koreans. The point being on 9/12, we didn’t know what kind of response we would need 18 months hence and if you needed two million boots on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 18 months then you have to start expanding the Armed forces yesterday.

    Bush of course never considered this. The reason being is two fold: a draft means that instead of tax breaks for the rich there would be tax increases upon the rich; and a draft means that all wars are the publics wars and so all policies have to be pragmatic and in the publics interest.

    Bush obviously had in mind his own parochial war and under our system, as long as we have a professional armed forces, they are the Presidents personal play toy that he can do anything he wants with. Had we had a draft Bush would have been forced to do the right thing. Can you imagine what would have happened, if in response to Pearl Harbor Roosevelt invaded Brazil in South America instead of fighting the Germans and Japanese?

    Now we’ve been fighting two wars with too little revenue, too little armed forces. The Russians realize that we and Europe are dependent upon them for Gas, Oil and purchase of our treasury notes to sustain our deficit so we can continue to give Paris Hilton tax breaks. Again these are the kinds of policies that did in the Roman Empire. They had the entire resources of Western Civilization available to them yet managed to be destroyed by landless wondering vagabonds.

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