Friday, April 13, 2007

The Surge - Fruitful or folly?

By Libby Spencer

Charles Krauthammer posts a lackluster surge defense in the WaPo today. Clearly, his heart just isn't in it anymore, but his opening line is unintentionaly hilarious.
By the day, the debate at home about Iraq becomes increasingly disconnected from the realities of the war on the ground.
He then goes on to demonstrate how seriously disconnected from reality he's become. He trots out the old "turn the corner" canard and relates it Anbar and Baghdad? How many times have we heard that one?

Although the phrase briefly fell out of favor in 2004, we've been told we're turning that corner since the beginning of the occupation. David Ignatius declared it turned in 2/05 and Peggy Noonan declared a whole lot of corners turned in 12/05. That column is a classic by the way.

So now Chuck is telling us all the good news is in Ramadi. Sound familiar? Maybe it's because we heard that in July 06.
"I think we have turned a corner here in Ramadi. There is still a lot to do, but we’re on the right track," said Army Col. Sean MacFarland.
And as the Council on Foreign Relations reported, in January 06 they were negotiating with Sunni insurgents there citing rifts between the insurgency’s local and foreign components. Back then Zarqawi was still the boogeman that was preventing peace. The same caveats that applied then would seem to be relevant today.
“The issue,” says Jeffrey White, an insurgency expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “has always been whether the Sunni leaders who come forward and say they have contacts with the insurgency actually have those contacts or simply are using this to enhance their own status.”
We've been turning that corner for long time. Saddam's capture, Zarqawi's downfall, handing over sovereignty, the elections, passing the constitution and too many others to remember. Now the surge is the new corner. It reminds me of time we tried to get from the parking garage to our hotel in Sevilla. The hotel was a block away from the Cathedral but the parking garage was two blocks in the other direction on the opposite side of a large park.

Finding the garage was no problem but when we exited, we ended up on the other side of the facility which was part of the old quarter where the streets twist into narrow alleys and you can't see landmarks over the top of the buildings. It was simple matter of turning two corners to get back to our hotel. Unfortunately we turned the wrong corner at the start, and my traveling companion, who shall remain unnamed, was a very stubborn man. He led the way and refused to admit he made a mistake.

I kept trying to get him to stop and look at the map but he wouldn't look and soldiered on relentlessly. We turned a lot of corners and the more deeply we penetrated the old quarter, the quicker he picked up the pace in his frustration. This went on for an hour before we finally found the park. Of course, it wasn't the right park, but at least it was big enough to find quickly enough on the map to force him to admit we had gone astray. We were so far off at that point, we ended up having to take a cab back to the hotel.

The moral of the story is, just because you're turning a lot of corners, doesn't mean you're not lost. The Bush administration could take a lesson from that, if only they would stop to read the road signs.

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