I’ll preface by reiterating what I have said for many months now – that I wish nothing more for our troops to be safe while in Iraq and return home quickly and safely. They are in an impossible situation – put there by the stubbornness and wishful thinking by so-called “experts” and “leaders” who couldn’t lead a fake army in a game of RISK™. I will also say that any sort of military victory that our troops would have or could have achieved in Iraq occurred a few months after the initial invasion.
This can’t be denied. We went in and took out Saddam’s regime (right or wrong or for whatever reason – good, bad or worse) rather quickly. It was a swift military victory for our troops. As much as we make fun of the “Mission Accomplished” moment, had there been any semblance of a post-invasion plan, things would be very different now. Not necessarily better, but certainly very different. Tens of thousands of Iraqis may not be dead. Hundreds of thousands may not have fled the country. And our military could have done what they should have been doing all along – finding those who actually attacked us on 9/11.
However, we are long past the point where any military “success” could be construed as anything that would go towards “winning” anything. At this point, any military success is just putting a band aid on a shotgun blast. Sure, the “surge” may quell violence in some areas for some time, but the reality of it is that these are battles that are being “won”, not the war. Besides, you can’t win an “occupation”, which this clearly has become long ago.
That won’t, however, stop the likely cast of characters from crowing that there are many successes in Iraq as a result of the ill advised and ill planned escalation. I would expect this (and can easily dismiss these comments) when they come from the likes of Kristol, Kagan, Keane or any of the other likely cast of neoconservative liars whose only vested interest is saving their own “legacy” or covering their ass with these lies and verbal hallucinations.
But when the New York Times prints an article by two members of the Brookings Institution, and Majority Whip Clyborn warns of a split in House Democrats if there is a favorable report (like there is any chance the report wouldn’t be more favorable than it should be) by General Petraeus (note: there is a good discussion in a diary from last night by DualAg), you can just smell the capitulation and propaganda being ratcheted up to new heights. And yes, it is noted that Brookings hasn’t been the “left leaning” think tank that it is portrayed as.
Now, in terms of reality, violence and deaths have increased and continue to be on the rise. The Iraqi government is on vacation this month, so any short term military “progress” would be out of date by the end of August anyway. Congressional republicans have been talking about the magic date of September to do anything – and it is more obvious now than it was in the past that they will most likely point to a favorable report by Petraeus as a reason to “stay the course” or continue the escalation.
Some Democrats will get weak kneed as republicans will take to the airwaves and crow about how we are thisclose to victory and can’t bail out now. But there are a few things that are continuing regardless – (1) public sentiment is getting more and more against this continued occupation and (2) small “victories”, whether it be military or other will be trumpeted as proof that we need to continue.
Democrats must not fall for this, and we need to keep pressure up here. The fact remains that Petraeus himself said that there is no military solution in Iraq. The fact remains that more dead Iraqis are NOT a sign of success, besides, arming Sunni insurgents in Iraq and flooding the lawless tribal region in Pakistan is a good way to keep the body counts high. The fact remains that the Iraqi government wants us out. The Iraqi people want us out. There is sparse electricity, clean water or jobs. Controlling a small region of the country for a short period of time is not accomplishing anything meaningful.
Winning battles does not necessarily mean winning wars, or winning hearts and minds. And it doesn’t pass laws or make a government any closer to functioning.
In September, there will be a push for another Friedman Unit, if not more. Democrats will most likely be on the defensive again. They should not be. The “surge” is, quite frankly, bullshit and irrelevant. It has absolutely no bearing on whether the Iraqi government will ever function, or whether the Iraqi people get jobs or water or come back to the country, or bring back the dead, or settle centuries-old grudges.
Even if it is “working”, it is NOT working. Winning battles (if we are even “winning” battles) will not resolve anything. Winning battles does not “win” an occupation. And no amount of clouding the truth or metrics can change that.