Monday, August 06, 2007

Escalation In Iraq

Based upon the tone of discussion that is developing about the surge, I think that either I, or those promoting the surge, must not understand what the goal of this mis-adventure is.

As I understand it, the plan is for the US to apply force to bring stability to a small region of the city of Baghdad, we then turn over the security of this area over to the Iraqi's to maintain, freeing US forces to more into a new region.

I have seen some claiming success because US forces have been able to bring stability to portions of Iraq.

General David Petraeus went out to show off a success story,


Haifa Street is an example of how the general's counter-insurgency plan is supposed to work.

Haifa Street used to be another way of saying utter chaos.

In January this year, it was the scene of the bitterest and bloodiest street fighting that Baghdad has experienced.

These days it's a good place not just for Iraqis but for the general to practice street politics and public relations.

The only trouble I see with this report it, this is only phase one, and phase one is the only phase anyone should expect could work. I think you would find few people who did not expect US forces to be able to impose peace and stability onto small areas of Baghdad.

The test of this escalation is phase two, where the Iraqi's maintain the security. Even this foolishly positive story about 'The Surge' can not ignore this and one additional unpleasant fact about this plan. The first is well stated here:

"As Americans stay here, there is safety,"

A true sign that the surge is failing. This is because it is the Iraqi forces that must provide the security, not the US troops, and the second issue:

The insurgents merely retreated across the Tigris River to infest another neighborhood that the U.S. military must clear and rebuild.

Without being able to form some degree of effective lockdown nationwide, we make no true gains.

So the key to the determining the success of the escalation is not performance of US forces, but the ability of the Iraqi forces to hold the areas the US has secured.

And no evidence has been provided that indicates any improvement in that area. In fact most evidence indicates that there is little likelihood of this working.

Hundreds of thousands of weapons that the US has delivered to the Iraqi forces are missing. They have no doubt been sold off for profit, or routed to some of the various insurgent groups. Reports of wide spread desertions continue to be common, and a good argument can be made that our efforts to train the Iraqi defense force is a total failure.

Now look at the test area for the current surge plan, an area Bush once declaired a success, Tal Afar. They have had another bombing in Tal Afar. We used US forces to clear the city, the turned it over to Iraqi forces to hold, a couple of time now. There is no reason to suspect that Haifa St, Baghdad or any other part of Iraq will be any different form Tal Afar.

The surge in Baghdad, and Iraq as a whole, can only work if there is a viable force in place to hold the territory the US forces have cleared. To declare this current plan a success, without seeing if any of the Iraqi troops have been able to hold any area, either indicates a failure to understand the objective or dishonesty.

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