Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Evaluation Perspectives

One of the nice things about being the writer at a blog is being able to respond at length when Haloscan wants to cut you off. I tend not to directly take this privilege that often, but in this case, I think it is warranted. Publius Hamilton downblog and in comments tends that Petraeus is producing victory and that he is being unfairly slimed. I asked him to define winning/victory and this is what he wrote:

Winning means that AQ is on the run and the Sunni sheiks have decided we are their best bet and sided with us agains AQ. Winning means we are getting more and more actionable intel every day due to the Clear and Hold strategy and the embedding of our trainers into Iraqi units.

Winning means the levels of violence are dropping and that the NY Times and USA Today are publishing articles that show the Surge is having positive results. Even Hillary told the VFW that the Surge is having some success, although true to form, she recanted her epiphany 2 days later to please the current audience....

Winning is when a Democratic congressman (Brian Baird) comes back from Iraq and changes his mind and writes an eloquent op-ed piece supporting the Surge and rejecting his previous call for withdrawal timelines.

I disagree as I believe that he is mistaking limited and indepedent tactical successes (Anbar Awakening) and excellent PR combined with suitable pressure to known political pressure points with strategic failure. He also forgets that the Anbar Awakening was well underway before the Kagan family decided to spit into the wind.

Here are President Bush's stated objectives for the surge

"The vast majority of them — five brigades — will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs."

Evaluation: "This year's U.S. troop buildup has succeeded in bringing violence in Baghdad down from peak levels, but the death toll from sectarian attacks around the country is running nearly double the pace from a year ago." Source AP So civilian casualties are off peak but at a rate 2x as high as last year when there was total systemic breakdown of society.

More from Bush In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods — and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.

Evaluation: This week from Forbes: "Al-Maliki also criticized some U.S. military actions.

"Concerning American raids on Shula (a northern Shiite neighborhood) and Sadr City (the Shiite slum enclave in east Baghdad). There were big mistakes committed in these operations. The terrorist himself should be targeted not his family," he said "We will not allow the detaining of innocent people."

And here is the strategic objective as outlined by the President with my emphasis:

"Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace — and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.

Evaluation: Well we have talks of an Allawi coup, half of the Cabinet has walked out, the remaining governing bloc can barely scratch a quorum on a good day, and contains two seperatist parties, and two pro-Iranian parties and that is that. The Sunni Arab blocs that are supposed to negoatiate for the insurgencies are either marginalized jokes, or outside the government; the Sadrist blocs that represent the dominant force on Baghdad's streets are laughing at and mortaring the Green Zone on a daily basis. The announcement of agreements on the drafts of the oil laws, de-Baathification and power sharing arrangements have been followed by a series of 'buts' that indicate that there is not a majority for passage.

So yes, there are tactical success in a morass of strategic failure, and those tactical successes that have been occurring independently of the surge are irrelevant to the strategic success of the United States because the center of gravity of the current plan is a fiasco.

Publius Hamilton, if you would like to reply at length, please e-mail us at newshog@gmail.com and we'll make sure you'll get a full front page post as a response.

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