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The Neocons Mythical September "Tet Offensive" in Iraq

Among the many neoconservative bloggers who want American troops to remain in Iraq for the next one thousand years is Engram. Here's what he said in a post he wrote last month about the declining casualty rate in Iraq which he was evaluating before the end of September:

At a minimum, you need to wait until an entire month's worth of casualty figures are in to get a sense of what is happening. I know that, but I am going to take an early look at the September figures anyway. The reason is that we are now 1 week into Ramadan, and I had expected an explosion of violence in Iraq. But 3 weeks into September and 1 week into Ramadan, casualty figures in Iraq are astonishingly low. I have no doubt that al Qaeda will stage a spectacular mass casualty attack in the remaining days of the month, but casualties will still be comparatively low even if al Qaeda replicates its record-setting 500-casualty attack against the Yazidis in August.

Engram's prediction of a mass casualty attack (of which he had no doubt would occur) was dead wrong, but what is more interesting is what he and other neoconservatives believe is the primary motivation behind the actions of al Qaeda foot soldiers in Iraq:

Thus, for al Qaeda to create the casualties that the Democrats need in order to portray the troop surge as a failure, al Qaeda will have to exceed their record-setting total from last month, and they'll need to do it in the next week and half.

So, in other words, al Qaeda in Iraq is entirely driven by the motivation to make each month's casualty figures higher than the previous month so that bloggers link Engram will be unable to present graphs that show declining casualties and claim that the surge is "working". As events in September illustrated, there's very little evidence to believe that's the case.

Engram's off-base prediction about September is similar to what we heard from other neoconservatives like D.M. Giangreco who predicted an Iraqi "Tet Offensive" timed to derail Petraeus' testimony in September:

Al Qaeda and other Islamic militants have displayed over and over again through their public statements that they are astute observers of the American political discourse over Iraq. That a violent "offensive" of some sort will be launched to drown out or subvert the heavily promoted and anticipated appearance of General David Petraeus before Congress in September is practically a given.

We heard quite a few neoconservatives predict a wave of al Qaeda-inspired violence in Iraq designed to create negative media coverage in advanced of Petraeus' testimony. And guess what? It did not happen. In fact, the exact opposite occurred as illustrated by Engram's graphs.

Now, how could it be that al Qaeda missed a golden opportunity to embarrass Bush and Petraeus in this key juncture of the debate over the Iraq War? Were they simply incapable of pulling it off, were they uninterested in staging an offensive for the benefit of the American media, or might they have redirected their efforts to the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater?

We may never know. What we do know is that the neocons have given absolute credit to the surge for the reduced level of violence during September. They conveniently ignore Moqtatda al-Sadr's declaration of a ceasefire at the end of August which occurred for reasons having nothing to do with the surge. As well they ignore the fact that the massive dislocation of Iraq's population has uprooted over 4 million people from their homes (which continued unabated during the surge), and helped to separate the warring groups making it more difficult to stage mass casualty attacks. They also ignore the turning of the Sunni tribes against al Qaeda with American help; a process which began long before the surge and has nothing to do with it, and was also a strategy strenuously advocated by myself and other war critics for years as the only effective way to reduce al Qaeda's presence in Iraq. For all these reasons, September would have likely seen a reduction of violence regardless of whether there were 140,000 or 170,000 US troops in the country.

In addition, given the wide array of geopolitical, social and military variables bubbling in the complex stew of Iraq's civil war, it is scientifically impossible to prove that the September reduction in violence was caused by just a single one of those variables: the presence of additional 30,000 US troops in a nation of 26 million people. Engram, as a professor at a research university, surely must know that.

None of this will prevent him and the neocons from insisting they were right about the surge and the rest of us were wrong. Never mind the fact that they were wrong about the expected "Tet Offensive"; wrong about us being greeted as liberators; wrong about the war paying for itself; wrong about the WMD; wrong that the handover of sovereignty would reduce violence; wrong about the length of the occupation; wrong about the adoption of the Iraqi constitution being a "turning point"; wrong about the first election being a "turning point"; wrong about the second election being a "turning point".

No, despite being wrong about all that, they expect us to now buy into their analysis of the war in Iraq. They expect us to believe that they had the right strategy all along and have been vindicated by events during September (a single month in a 4 1/2 year war).

Thankfully, the majority in this country isn't really listening to the neocons anymore and public opinion on the war hasn't budged an inch. The only ones who are listening to the neocons are the Republican in Congress who now appear willing to march like lemmings behind Bush and off the cliff in the 2008 election cycle when the wrath of the American people descends on them for continuing a war simply because they are incapable of admitting they were wrong. In the end, it's the American people who will demonstrate to the neocons just how wrong they are by punishing the politicians who have conspired to give Bush a blank check in the lives of our heroes that continue to be lost in this war nearly every day.


Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (1)

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

"Now, how could it be that al Qaeda missed a golden opportunity to embarrass Bush and Petraeus in this key juncture of the debate over the Iraq War?"

Clearly what happened is Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi got on a conference call with the al Qaeda leadership in Iraq, and after joking and laughing about the latest Brittany Spears hijinks (the AQ love Brittany's fashion sense and flair) Harry and Nancy told AQ that the right wing bloggers were "on to our plan" and that it was time to pull a switcheroo - so AQ did the opposite of what they'd had planned.

Later, Nancy and Harry smoked come crack cocaine, abused some children, cooked up some phony Global Warming data, and put an ad in the Village Voice advertising for "phony soldiers" who'd be willing to say anything the Democrats wanted them to say...

Come one, Larkin, aren't you up on all of this stuff? Don't you read the posts over at our sister site "Wizbang"? Jay Tea and Paul have their thumbs right on top of this issue -- at least, I hope that's where their thumbs are these days -- but I can't be sure.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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