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Iraqi Parliament Seals Failure of the Surge

It is once again time to remind everyone what were the true goals of the surge as explained by Bush at the beginning of 2007:

This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace -- and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.

In other words, the goal of the surge wasn't just to improve security for the sake of improving security. The goal was to improve security in order to foster a climate in which the essential task of political reconciliation among Iraq's warring parties could occur. With the Iraqi Parliament closing up shop for rest of the year, it's clear that the goals of the surge have not been accomplished as reported by the Huffington Post:

The Sunni speaker of parliament announced the decision to suspend sessions after days of debate over a draft bill that would allow thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to return to their government jobs. The measure is among the 18 benchmarks set by the United States to encourage reconciliation.

Reversing the ruinous policy of de-Baathification has gone nowhere, and the majority of the benchmarks laid out by the Bush administration have also not been achieved. But there's plenty of public animosity between the bickering factions in Iraq:

Before the legislature adjourned, a shouting match erupted when a Shiite lawmaker accused a powerful Sunni Arab politician of harboring sectarian sentiments against Iraq's Shiite majority.

The public outburst could renew calls by Shiite politicians that Adnan al-Dulaimi, the Sunni politician, be stripped of his parliamentary immunity to stand trial for inciting sectarian strife.

Iraqi forces have repeatedly raided al-Dulaimi's offices in a western Baghdad neighborhood over the past week, arresting 42 people linked to the politician after one of his security guards was discovered with a key to an explosives-laden car.

Terrific. Shouting matches and calls by Shiites to put the top Sunni political figure on trial. Sounds like political reconciliation is right on track.

In light of these facts, it's clear that the surge can safely be pronounced a failure, and all of us who said it wouldn't work have been proven right. Those who said it would work have been proven wrong.

It's important for all of us on the anti-war side not to allow the pro-war crowd to rewrite history here. The purpose of the surge was to foster reconciliation which clearly hasn't happened no matter how they try to spin it. They will claim that there has been reconciliation at the "local level" (whatever that means), but once again that was not the goal of the surge. In fact, not only did the surge fail to foster national reconciliation, but it has likely discouraged progress in that direction. Iraqi politicians, freed from the threat of annihilation at the hands of their rivals, now seem to have lost all incentive towards making real progress. Nothing serves as a greater incentive towards making peace than the threat of war.

Whether the surge is responsible for the relative improvement in the security situation is certainly debatable. The decision by most Sunnis to deny al Qaeda terrorists a safe haven has certainly helped but this process began long before the surge. Moqtada al Sadr's declaration of a ceasefire has also played a major part in the reduction of the violence. Civilian deaths dropped dramatically almost immediately after he declared the ceasefire.

Meanwhile, we've suffered another 883 deaths and 5,688 wounded this year while Bush's surge strategy played out. We are further away from getting out of Iraq now than when we started the year. The Iraqis are nowhere near ready to take over their own country and seem to have settled comfortably into the role of being an American protectorate and relying on US forces to take care of business for them. The expanded role and presence of US troops in Baghdad has relieved the Iraqi army and police of having to take the lead in maintaining security. The Iraqis have become more dependent on the US, not less.

If the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds don't want to come together in a single nation then no amount of sacrifice on the part of our troops can change that fact. We can no more keep Iraq together than we could have kept the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia from splitting part. It's time to stop standing in the way of history in Iraq and let events play themselves out. The alternative is to maintain 150,000 troops in Iraq for decades while the country slowly splinters and fragments. The American people don't want anything to do with this protracted, costly and ultimately doomed nationbuilding effort. It's time to bring the troops home to a hero's welcome.


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Comments (2)

Lee Ward:

Well said. Bush promised a year ago that he'd hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks, which were negotiated last winter and agreed upon by the White House in lieu of an troop withdrawal timetable.

It's time to hold him to that promise.

National Guard LT:

Larkin, "and the majority of the benchmarks laid out by the Bush administration have also not been achieved."

I am not trying to put you on the spot but are you being charitable in the Holiday season?

Have any benchmarks been meet fully?


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

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

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