Monday, March 05, 2007

Surge Charade In Iraq

We're now entering the public relations phase of the troop "surge" in Iraq, the part where the Bush administration and its apologistas from the Wall Street Journal and other war-mongering media try to convince us the surge is working.

So, today we read that U.S. and Iraqi security forces conducted their first post-surge sweep of Sadr City, the sprawling Shi'ite slum that is home to the the militant Mahdi Army.

The operation occurred only after extensive negotiations with the Shi'ite dominated Maliki government, including representatives of Moqtada Al Sadr, who nominally controls the Mahdi Army. What a shocking surprise, then, that according to official U.S. military sources they "met no resistance" during the sweep, and also found no weapons caches and detained no suspected militants.

Maybe Bush could expand this strategy. Let's negotiate with the leading smugglers of illegal aliens from Mexico for a one day sweep of a set expanse of the border. We're willing to bet we'll have great success, finding not a single illegal alien attempting to make the crossing that day. We can then declare mission accomplished and take down all our border posts.

What's obviously going on in Baghdad is an elaborate charade. We announce a troop surge in conjunction with Iraqi security forces. Maliki says he supports the security initiative. Al Sadr realizes that if the surge fails, Maliki's government will fall. More importantly, if it "succeeds," then the Americans will declare "victory" and go home, paving the way for a direct conflict between the Mahdi Army and various Sunni groups. So Sadr, who has time on his side, simply decides to wait it out.

Just about every media report we've seen quotes local Shi'ite militants saying they've been "ordered" by Sadr's lieutenants to lay low, not interfere with the new security initiative, and above all else, not engage in clashes with American forces. That makes pretty good sense from Sadr's point of view. It means Americans are left figting Sunni insurgents for the Shi'ites. Meanwhile, Sadr no doubt is mapping out his plans for an aggressive push by Shia militias once the Americans declare Baghdad "secure" and begin the inevitable troop drawdown.

Laura Bush is certainly onboard for the charade. "Many parts of Iraq are stable now," she told Larry King last week. "But, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody." (Just think if Laura was Mary Todd Lincoln, discussing the War Between The States. "Why Larry, I don't know why people call this a Civil War. Much of the country is stable--indeed there hasn't been a battle of any kind north of Gettysburg, and even much of the South, although burned to a crisp and occupied by federal troops, hasn't seen much fighting. Why does the media have to focus on the occasional one bad day of an Antietam?")

If it's so stable, then maybe George and Laura would like to take a nice spring drive through Basra in an open-air car.


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