According to the latest evaluation by the highly respected defense analyst, Anthony Cordesman, "America has no good options in Iraq." That observation alone should expose the fraud behind the recent blustering in Anbar province — and the subsequent lie,"We're kicking ass." — by our phony Panglossian swaggerer and grossly incompetent fool, President George W. Bush. But Cordesman's message is even more worrisome, because he conditions America's last-chance options upon the ability of Iraq's leaders "to move forward to achieve a significant degree of political conciliation and compromise." [Cordesman, "America's Last Chance in Iraq: Changing US Strategy to Meet Iraq's Real Needs," (PDF) Sept. 4, 2007, p. 2]
Why worrisome? Because, as Kenneth Katzman (author of a new and secret Congressional Research Service report) concludes: due to "the number and breadth of parties boycotting the cabinet, the Iraqi government is in essential collapse." Thus, says Katzman, "that argues against any real prospects for political reconciliation." [James Gordon Meek, "Iraq Government Near Collapse, Secret Report Says," New York Daily News, Sept. 6, 2007] And, according to reporter James Meek, "Many senior State Department officials in Iraq believe a political solution to the war is now 'hopeless.'" [Ibid] That's bad news, especially when you consider that the avowed objective of Bush's "surge" was to provide a safe environment for political progress at the national level.
But Katzman also questions the military merits of the surge. Thus, his assertion, "While US troops have succeeded in temporarily pacifying Anbar Province west of Baghdad, violence has spiked north of the city in provinces such as Diyala, where al Qaeda in Iraq relocated." [Ibid] His bleak assessment is buttressed by Cordesman: "The US claims to have increased security in Baghdad from 8% of the city to some 50%, but it has quietly lost much of the country. [Cordesman, p. 5]
"One of the ironies of the US debate over the success of the surge is that it has largely ignored the fact that control over Iraqi's [sic] four southeastern provinces - with more than 30% of its population and some 80% of its oil exports (90-95% of government revenues) - are now in the hands of rival Shi'ite factions and militias." [Ibid]]
Thus, those who are impressed by Bush's recent Anbar photo-op, his macho rhetoric and America's very modest successes with Sunni sheiks in Anbar should read Juan Cole's September 4, 2007 article, "On How al-Anbar isn't that Safe and on How its 'Calm' is Artificially Produced." Then, they should seriously consider Cordesman's warning: "The present lack of any US plan or strategy for dealing with the south is a crippling limitation of the surge strategy, and one that ignores an area far more important than Anbar." [p. 8]
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Moreover, neither Bush's theatrics nor the politicized reports of progress expected from General Petraeus should obscure the surge's very disappointing results. Consider the following: (1) According to the Associated Press, 1,809 civilians died in Iraq last month, the "highest monthly total this year," [Karen DeYoung, "Experts Doubt Drop in Violence In Iraq," Washington Post, Sept. 6, 2007], (2) "In July the civilian death toll was 1,753, and in June it was 1,227." [Tina Susman, "Iraqi Civilian Deaths Climb Again," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 1, 2007] and (3), September's GAO report noted that the "average number of daily attacks against civilians have remained unchanged from February to July 2007" [DeYoung] Thus, "the statistics appear to indicate that the increase in troops ordered by President Bush this year has done little to curb civilian bloodshed, despite US military comments to the contrary." [Susman]
And then, there's the matter of bogus claims crediting the surge for a reduction in US troop deaths. Simply take a look at the monthly death rates for 2006 and 2007 (taken from Informed Comment, Aug. 31, 2007).
Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug
2006: 62 - 55 — 31 — 76 — - 69 — - 61 — 43 - 65
2007: 83 - 81 — 81 — 104 — 126 - 101 - 79 - 77
Thus, in every month of 2007, more soldiers died in Iraq than died during that corresponding month in 2006.
You might want to keep such information in mind during the next few weeks, especially when you hear President Bush, General Petraeus and the neoconservative cheerleaders in think tanks and the news media attempt to persuade the you - and, thus, the US Congress - that the surge is succeeding. Simply put, the surge has failed to achieve its primary objective - political reconciliation. Moreover, "violence in Iraq has not fallen because of the surge. Violence is way up this year" [Cole, Informed Comment, Aug. 31, 2007].
Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).
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