Never try to outsmart an Arab rug merchant. You'll come out on the losing end every time. If George W. had curled up at the ranch with some T.E. Lawrence he'd understand that. But he didn't, which explains why he thinks his “surge” in Iraq is actually working — so much so he wants to surge again:
Associated Press, 3/6/07 – Washington: The White House is ready to ask Congress for more money for President Bush's plan - already hotly debated - to send 21,500 new combat troops into Iraq... The move would pay for support personnel and otherwise update last month's request for the Iraq war. It is expected to draw criticism from Democrats who say the Pentagon underestimated the costs of Bush's plan for improving security in Baghdad and Anbar province.
But like almost everything this administration either believes or claims to believe, you just have to dig a centimeter below the surface to discover something completely different. And so it is with the surge.
What They Say: Less than a month into the surge the level of violence in and around Baghdad has fallen sharply. US and Iraqi government troops have moved peacefully into Sadr City, the stronghold of the powerful Shia Mahdi Army.
All that is true. Violence has dropped and the Mahdi Army has become all but invisible.
The question is not what's happening, but why it's happening. Why has the violence dropped?
The administration believes it's because their latest “clear and hold,” surge strategy has finally turned the trick for them. High fives all around.
Wrong. Quite the opposite in fact. Here's what's really happening.
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When Bush first announced his surge plan Shiite leaders, (particularly that little two-legged tumor, Muqtada al-Sadr,) took stock of the situation and decided that, rather than being a threat to them, Bush's surge was a potential solution – to the “Sunni problem.”
The last time Americans tried to pacify Baghdad, including Sadr City, both Shia and Sunni engaged US troops and took a beating. They weren't defeated, but they lost lots of fighters, expended valuable resources and their own neighborhoods were left shattered.
This time, Shiites decided why not just lay low, just sit out the surge. It;s a luxury Shiites knew their Sunni opponents could not afford. The Sunnis, Iraq's minority sect, is fighting for nothing less than its very survival. And the day the Sunnis stop fighting is the day they lose, in a region where “losing” doesn't mean “wait til next season.” Because there will be no next season for the losers.
And so it has come to pass. The car and suicide-bombs going off in Baghdad today are almost entirely Sunni inspired attacks. Those attacks will spark precisely the kind of counter-attacks by US/Iraqi troops in Sunni strongholds Shiites are counting on.
The second part of Bush's surge strategy focuses on Iraq's troubled Anbar province — more good news for Iraq's Shiites and their supporters in Tehran. Anbar is the center of gravity of the Sunni insurgency. And yes, there are also a few thousand foreign al Qaeda fighters headquartered in Anbar as well – a very uneasy marriage of convenience with indigenous Sunnis.
Getting the picture? Bush's surge is going to end up weakening the Sunni insurgency and strengthening Shiite dominance. Why on earth would Shiite fighters do anything but sit back and enjoy the show? Which is precisely what they are doing.
While George W. Bush makes Iraq safe for Iranian-backed Shiites, leaders like perennial troublemaker al Sadr are busy too. They are in Iran spending their surge down-time to do some post-graduate training at the University of Lunatic Islamic Governance in Tehran.
So the next time you hear an administration official touting the success of the surge, understand that what they are really bragging about is that they are succeeding in doing Maliki and al Sadr's dirty work for them. That's right, American soldiers are dying and being maimed now to make Iraq safe for the likes of Muqtada al-Sadr and to prepare Iraq for Iran's flavor of Islamic oppressive governance.
But wait, there's more. If Bush's surge succeeds in knocking Iraq's Sunnis out of commission it would hand Iran one more piece to it's dream of creating a “Shia Crescent" from the Gulf to the Mediterranean — a Shia Crescent with it's capital in Tehran.
Personally I could give a fig if that happens or not. While Sunni-run governments tend to be more secular than Shia-run governments, neither are exactly examples of progressive thought or behavior. Quite the opposite. What I worry is that Sunni nations, like Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, will not just turn the keys of government over Iran's mullahs. They'll fight. Because, while Sunnis and Shiites share a hated for America, they hate each other even more.
Therefore if Bush's surge “succeeds,” it may simply spark a wider war, one that will set fire to the entire Middle East. That in turn will draw western nations in order to protect their most important sources of oil. Call it World War III or the Third Gulf War. Whatever it's called it'll be a whooper.
Just when you think George & Co. couldn't possibly screw things up worse than they already have, they do.
Heck of a job, Georgie.
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