Surge? Working or Not? Or Both?
A piece from the Townhall Forum by Patrick Ruffini that says the surge is quietly working.
Pieces of evidence in the surge's favor:
--Violence in Baghdad down 80%
--Sadr and the Mahdi Army have dissolved.
--Only one brigade has been added--3/4 more to come.
--Frederick Kagan one of the minds behind the surge against his initial thinking is now (magically) in favor of entering Sadr City. [How seriously are these guys to be taken, if their minds flip flop this often?].
Pieces of evidence against this opinion:
(these are not mentioned by Ruffini, although to be fair he is cautiously optimistic and of course plays the "the MSM is against the war so this gets no coverage line")
--At every phase off the GWOT....the recent Somali operations, Iraq, Lebanese-Israeli war, Afghanistan...the enemy learns to disappear and let the large top-down traditional military win the "war" phase only to emerge in jihadist-guerilla campaigns.
The Mahdi Army is doing this right now and the Mahdi Army members the US is cracking down have been sold out by Sadr as part of the 1/3 of his militia he can't control. i.e. We are cleaning up his organization for him. They plan by all measures to follow Hezbollah's gameplan, lie low until the Americans leave, get highly weaponized and stringently loyal and launch and all out attack possibly against the Iraqi gov't, Sunnis, anybody, who knows. On a larger note, the Sunnis will begin swarming techniques on the American troops--American casualties will increase (are inc'ging).
--The plan takes no account of Diyala, Kirkuk which is beginning to see major Arab-Kurd violence, with Turkey this week calling for a postponement of the Kirkuk referendum. The insurgents and militia members simply go where the US is not.
--The Iraqi Army is still not up to snuff. If the US Army can not prevent a fullblown, highly effective insurgency, a rag tag army will not either.
--The Insurgents have figured out how to take down helicopters and to use chemicals stored in trucks and blow up the trucks creating a mini-dirty bomb device.
--The British drawdown in Basra/S.Iraq signifies a new onset of Shia-Shia violence. Unclear whether S.Iraq could become a new staging ground for attacks in Anbar, W.Baghdad by Shia on Sunni. Or reverse.
--The surge is an anti-insurgency strategy and generally a good one. But the insurgency is only one of the four wars currently occurring: (intra Shia, Kurd-Arab, insurgency, Civil War/sectarian Shia-Sunni conflict). No doubt the Sunnis are the ones killing the most Americans, which is why this latest round of blaming Iran and their backing Shia militias is a non-starter. But fighting a counterinsurgency in a civil war is to be a pick a side--no matter how much incursions into Sadr City happen and some Shia death squad leaders are arrested--and in this case it is the Shia. Which means in the Arab world the US is seen as promoting ethnic cleansing.
--The question remains, violence has gone down in Baghdad for now but how long can this be sustained and what happens when the US leaves? There is no political strategy affixed to this better military plan. That has been my critique not of the surge but of the surge minus a changed political vision. In that sense, the "good news" that populations have returned to Baghdad who were previously run out is I think worrisome in the long run.
Do the Sunnis trust the Maliki gov't? Allegations by two Sunni women of rape by Shia police does not help--particularly when PM Maliki's comment was to say the woman was a liar, promote the alleged rapists and their bosses, and fire the Sunni's who made the claim.
I predicted the surge will temporarily help with the violence in Baghdad, violence would erupt in other places, the Shia would melt away (in this case the Mahdi Army), the reconstruction is too little too late although it should be done and will have some (I hope) success, and the lack of regional engagement is the real flaw in this whole plan. I stand by those predictions. I don't see a lot in the way to dis-verify those assumptions: especially on the political front. Decreased violence is only one measure--decreased violence in Baghdad that is. The pro-administration voices continue to fall for this line of decreased violence in the short term means victory. I wish that were the case, but I'm skeptical.