Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Cautionary Aside

Have been searching the web, for quite a while to find a more realistic take on what is going on in Iraq, and moreover a take on what happens when the "surge" comes to an end. The mainstream press has now downplayed Iraq, and seems to have concluded the surge is triumphant.

But I find a more cautionary note from Joe Conason over at
see under McCain's risky strategy

He starts off by noting of McCain: "His presidential hopes depend on a perception of "victory" in Iraq. If things turn worse by summer with fewer U.S. troops, will he still argue for more of the same?"

In his third paragraph he notes: "
The impulsive gloating of McCain and his fellow hawks is premature but understandable. Reporters and statistical analysts both believe that local violence has diminished markedly in Iraq since last fall, thanks to the additional troops as well as shifts in U.S. strategy against insurgent forces. Although the number of American casualties per week in 2007 was about the same as in 2006 (and worse than 2005) that number declined toward the end of the year, along with the number of civilian casualties, bombings and death squad killings. The result was to soften opposition to the war among independent and Republican voters -- and to revitalize McCain's candidacy."

Then in the latter half of the article he concludes: " According to the present schedule, American forces are supposed to be drawn down by next summer to the same strength they were at in 2006 -- primarily because there are no more troops to deploy -- and there is a strong likelihood that the levels of violence will rise. Little or no progress has been achieved in reducing tensions among Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish communities, which have been increasingly segregated by the Iraqi version of ethnic cleansing and are increasingly dominated by sectarian militias that do not necessarily answer to the feeble government in Baghdad. Many Iraqis fear that those armed groups simply await the withdrawal of American forces to resume a civil war that only seems to have paused, without resolution."

His next key point is: " By July, the U.S. troop presence will return to the pre-surge strength of approximately 130,000 -- and remain there indefinitely somehow, until either this president or the next one decides how to cope with the damage the war is wreaking on the armed forces, the federal budget and the international prestige of the United States."

And here are the concluding two paragraphs of the article:

"The surge had changed public perceptions of the war enough to bolster McCain and dampen antiwar sentiment, but now the price of that strategy is coming due. We cannot bring more troops home without risking a renewed conflagration because the Iraqi government has done so little with the "breathing space" bought by American lives and treasure.

Has the surge succeeded? That is what McCain says everywhere he goes, but by next summer he may have to explain why the American occupation has returned to the status quo of 2006, as if the surge had never occurred. He will have to tell us why we should not seek a way out of Iraq -- and why, after losing more than 4,000 American lives and spending a trillion dollars, he insists that our best choice is more of the same. "

Thus he says it better than I could, or states it very succinctly, and gets to the heart of the matter. I recommend the article as a correctal, to the way the mainstream media moves away from a story, and buys in to the 'establishment' version of events.