Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cassandra Was Right

By Cernig

While the rightwing was going nutzo over purple fingers and more recently writing that "we've won" as casualty rates dropped in Iraq for reasons which had little to do with the Surge, liberals were more cautious - because we always thought the danger was that this would happen:
Senior military commanders here now portray the intransigence of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government as the key threat facing the U.S. effort in Iraq, rather than al-Qaeda terrorists, Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias.

In more than a dozen interviews, U.S. military officials expressed growing concern over the Iraqi government's failure to capitalize on sharp declines in attacks against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. A window of opportunity has opened for the government to reach out to its former foes, said Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the commander of day-to-day U.S. military operations in Iraq, but "it's unclear how long that window is going to be open."
Back when the Iraqi constitution was first railroaded through over the objections of Sunni leaders, with vague promises that it would be sorted out after elections (the Sunnis are still waiting), many realised that, as Marc Lynch recently described it, the whole country would drift inexorably into:
a warlord state, along a Basra model, with power devolved to local militias, gangs, tribes, and power-brokers, with a purely nominal central state.
We were, of course, unheeded and branded as defeatists - indeed, when events came about as we predicted many on the Right proclaimed that it was our fault, in time-honored Cassandra style.

So let's put all the Right's triumphalism out to grass, shall we? They've been consistently wrong,mainly because their need to spin every single thing as being a last corner blinds them to the obvious. Jeff Huber has the real deal on what's happening in Iraq, clearly stated:
They're making hay out of the reduced number of roadside bomb attacks, despite that fact that on Monday four American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb. The neocons are still chortling about how well things are going in Anbar province, even though an American soldier was killed there Monday while conducting combat operations. You'll also hear congratulatory rumblings about how well Iraq's security forces are progressing, despite six Iraqi policemen in a town outside Mosul being gunned down in front of their own police station. The gunmen? They got away, of course. How's that for police work?

To call what's now happening in Iraq a "great success" because bad things have happened less in the last three months than in previous several months is exactly like saying losing one leg to a roadside bomb is preferable to losing two legs to a roadside bomb. That's true in a Rovewellian sort of way, but the only thing in this analogy I'd consider a "great success" is losing zero legs to a roadside bomb.

But however great, small or in between you care to measure the military performance of late in Iraq, the surge's successes have been at the tactical level, and we're long past the point in this war where tactical victories can be touted as signs of strategic progress. The surge's stated aim was to provide breathing space for Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki's unity government to get its act together, and there's no sign of that happening any of our lifetimes.
Time and past time to withdraw - still, and despite the Surge.

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