On Jan. 10, President Bush pre-empted a great new episode of "According to Jim" to make a speech.
"What was it about?"
Well, Jim ticked off Cheryl because he went on some talk show to complain about how women try to feminize men.
"Not the TV show. The speech."
The speech was President Bush's announcement that he was ordering an escalation of the war in Iraq. The escalation, Bush said, will increase the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq by 20,000 to 30,000. Incidentally, nobody actually calls the escalation what it is. Everyone calls it a surge or the new security plan. Escalation is a dirty word in politics because it was used during Vietnam. The Bush administration doesn't think it's fair to compare Iraq to Vietnam. They're right. Unlike in Iraq, Bush and Cheney both tried very hard to avoid the bloodshed in Vietnam.
Back to the escalation.
It's not just an increase, but also a change in the United States' military mission. Instead of using the U.S. military for reactive, whack-a-mole missions against insurgents, the U.S. military would attempt to take and hold entire Baghdad neighborhoods, in conjunction with the Iraqi military and police.
According to George:
"... 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."
So, with about half of the surging soldiers and Marines in place, how is the whole operation going?
The overall level of violence is apparently down in some Baghdad neighborhoods.
But is that a sign that the surge is working? Yes and no.
Yes, meaning it's not surprising that insurgency activity would decline in areas where U.S. troops have concentrated.
No, meaning that, unfortunately, the surge is a stop-gap measure that will not end Iraq's civil war. Holding and securing entire neighborhoods is a sound counterinsurgency strategy, but the United States simply doesn't have nearly enough (wo)manpower to do the job properly. Violence in some Iraqi neighborhoods has dropped, but violence in Iraq as a whole has, well, surged.
Iraqi security forces cannot stop the violence and cannot secure neighborhoods without U.S. help. Simply put, there are many more neighborhoods to secure than there are ready American military units ready to help. War supporters who say there are enough troops are the same people who called the war a success in 2003, the same people who touted Iraq's elections as a positive transformative event, the same people who said the capture of Saddam and the death of Zarqawi were "turning points" for Iraq. They're, how can I put this politely, full of shit. The surge is doomed.
You don't need to read newspaper columns to understand this. The Pentagon and White House have already announced the surge's failure.
On March 1, the Christian Science Monitor reported that the officers who advise Surgin' Gen. David Petraeus told him that "the U.S. has six months to turn around the situation in Iraq, or else face a Vietnam-style collapse that could force the military into a 'hasty retreat.'"
At the same time, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, his second in command, said that a minimum of six to nine months would have to pass before the surge's success could be judged. A maximum of six months to accomplish something that will take a minimum of six to nine months? That's a formula for failure.
And President Bush? He's trying to dump his wars by appointing a so-called czar to run them. The war czar would have immense power, including authority over the secretaries of defense and state. None of the ex-generals Bush asked will take the job. Who can blame them? Coordinating the activities of the Pentagon and State Department is the president's job. If Bush doesn't want to do it anymore, why would anyone else?
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