Remember when the wingnut blogosphere was blathering incessantly about Democrats wanting to "surrender" in Iraq? Well, it turns out that the Bush administration itself is surrendering to the "people we were fighting over there so we didn't have to fight them over here". Check out Babak Dehghanpisheh's blog at Newsweek:
The point of the trip was to showcase the "Amiriyah Volunteers." These aren't the kind of volunteers that run neighborhood charity drives; they're Sunni ex-insurgents that have now teamed up with U.S. soldiers to battle Al Qaeda militants in their area. During the trip, Petraeus also hinted that a drawdown of U.S. troops would be likely some time next year. The group of "volunteers" looked more or less like the ragtag militia they are: many were dressed in slacks or jeans with khaki vests and Oakley-style wraparound sunglasses. Some sported camouflage headbands, and of course no militiaman outfit would be complete without an AK-47.
This change in strategy is a tacit concession that what war critics like myself have been saying all along about the nature of the conflict in Iraq is true. Rather than viewing Iraq as a classic black-and-white good guys (US) versus bad guys (Al Qaeda) fight, the administration now accepts that we are in the midst of a multi-faceted and complex conflict. They've accepted that the Sunni insurgents who have killed the majority of our troops really aren't the same as Al Qaeda,that they're not interested in some "caliphate", and that they're not going to swim the ocean to follow us here when we leave. It has taken years of screaming by liberal bloggers like myself to pound this message into the thick skulls of the neocons who have been screwing up this war from the very beginning without even the foggiest notion of the true nature of this conflict. It's too bad for the 3,000 or so of our troops who died needlessly in the interim fighting against the Sunnis who never wanted to be our enemies.
It's clear that Bush is now giving up the fight he has been needlessly pursuing for the last four years in Iraq. He's decided that the Sunni insurgents aren't such bad people after all and that they probably just want control of the territory that we seized from them and gave to a Shiite-dominated government. It's finally dawned on Bush that most of these insurgents aren't foot soldiers of bin Laden and don't think too highly of the Saudi jihadists who have entered Iraq to spread so much mayhem and chaos. They will gladly stop shooting at us if we will just stop persecuting them at the behest of a government that doesn't represent them and that they unanimously oppose. What wingnuts and neocons would have labeled as "surrender" a few months ago (handing weapons and money to the Sunni insurgents) they now see as part of a brilliant master strategy to achieve victory that could only have been thought up by themselves. Isn't that rich?
General Petreaus explains how this strategy is necessary to allow us to drawdown our forces in Iraq. An unusually candid admission that will have neocons soon screaming for his head (either that or claiming "victory"; I'm not sure which).
Petraeus later explained how the alliances with these kinds of local groups, along with the buildup of Iraqi security forces, may provide the opening to cut back U.S. troops in the country, an unusually candid admission from the general, who has held his cards very close to his chest. "We know that the surge has to come to an end; there's no question about that," he said. "I think everyone understands that by about a year or so from now we've gotta be a good bit smaller than we are right now. The services need that. The Army and Marine corps are under considerable strain. We are sensitive to that. And so we recognize that we do have to come down. The question is how do you do that? And how do you thin out in certain places, how do you draw down in others? How do you thicken with Iraqi forces and 'volunteers' and so forth so that you can retain the gains that we have fought so hard to achieve?" He explained: "We are not at all satisfied with where we are right now. We have made some progress, but there is a lot of hard work still to be done against the different extremist elements that do threaten the new Iraq."
Declare victory, pay off all the terrorists, and be done with it. Enough already.
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