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Iraq: So which is it?
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, April 05, 2007

Martin Schram of Scripps News is sure the surge is about to fail:
The Mahdi Army, the militia once solely controlled by the devoutly anti-America Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, has reportedly oozed back into the Sadr City section of Baghdad that is a prime target of the new U.S. strategy the Bush administration calls a surge.

What that means is that _ despite the way-too-early pronouncements of success by President Bush's top spinners (not to mention Sunday's desperation overreach by Joyless John McCain, which we'll discuss later) _ we may soon get our first real look at whether Bush's surge is working.

[...]

Only a week ago did the new ominous reality surface. And even then, it surfaced in a way that most Americans may not yet know it. "Militiamen return to Sadr City," said the Page One headline in The Washington Times, one of the few newspapers that played the story where it belonged. The lead by correspondent Sharon Behn reported:

"Shi'ite militiamen, who melted away from Baghdad when U.S. and Iraqi troops began their security crackdown seven weeks ago, are rolling back into the city with fresh Iranian training, Iraqi and other officials said.

"It is not clear whether the radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is in control of the newly trained group, which some Iraqis describe as a 'secret army' trained and equipped by Iran."
Well, we'll see won't we? But Ed Morrisey notes two positive developments. First, the surge strategy (take, hold and build) is being expanded outside of Baghdad. Second, curfews are being lifted and concrete barriers are being moved within Baghdad:
Petraeus used some of the same strategy and tactics in Mosul during the initial months of the war, which makes the expansion of his new strategy to the city somewhat ironic. Mosul citizens protested when Petraeus rotated out of Iraq, and their concern was well-founded. Without his counterinsurgency genius, the city fell prey to a lower-intensity version of the sectarian warfare that has plagued Baghdad.

People don't expand failures, at least not on purpose. The new strategy has made inroads against the insurgents, and the Iraqi government has recovered the momentum. The only thing that can stop them is an American Congress more invested in failure than success.
Ed's points are very well taken. You don't reinforce failure, and you certainly don't expand it. But as you'll see here, the statistics show a drop in the violence and death in Baghdad since the surge. Unless you want to dispute the numbers, there's very few other conclusions one can draw from them.

Secondly, you have to assume that if Schram has this info, then so do Petraeus and the Iraqi government, yet they are making moves which indeed improve the quality of life and indicate a lower level of threat than previously. One has to assume they're not doing this in the face of a greater threat.

Obviously, if those elements of the Mahdi army Schram tells us are "oozing" back in the city are looking for a fight, they're going to get one. And, frankly, they'll eventually lose. But Ed Morrisey's last sentence, above, is the telling point of all of this. It leaves the administration, who everyone admits has mishandled the war to this point, fighting on two fronts - there and at home.

So we'll have to sit back and see who's right about this. Given the tools and the time necessary, there's no doubt who will win a confrontation between the Mahdi factions and the ISF/US. Unfortunately it will take time and casualties. And those are things most Congressional Democrats are unwilling to allow.
 
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I’d point out that this is much the same as the move we saw in Congress the other day, trying to ’ban’ the phrase "Global war on terror’ when talking about Iraq.

Iraq is on track toward becoming a huge victory in the war on terror for the Bush administration. What we see from the press and the left (A redundancy) is the attempt to redefine it as neither.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
I’m sorry, but I just can’t take "Mahdi Army" seriously...

I keep thinking of the Fremen, and speaches by Paul...

"I am your DUKE!!"

The elite soldiers if the Mahdi Army... Are they called Fedaykin?

*grin*
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Of course they are attempting to infiltrate back into Baghdad. They will probably be able to cause some problems. We will then have to take the time to root them back out. We may not be able to and the whole operation fail. However, if we stay committed, they will probably not be successful.

It is amazing how many people talk as if our opponents would just disappear if we did the right thing, so since no success is immediate, or complete (because they always do something else) everything is just a waste of time doomed to failure. If they stand and fight it proves the situation is getting worse. If they flee, we can’t catch them. If they come back in and we fight them, the problem is getting worse.

Uh, I said it better here.

 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Well Scott you can laugh at the Mahdi’s Army, NOW, but wait until you taste the Atreides Gom Jabbar!

I say, "May thy knife chip and shatter."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I don’t know. I think one of the main reason for the drops in violence is specifically because the Militias left for a while. If they’re coming back, and because of Iran training even stronger, then that is worrisome. We’ll see if the increased security forces can stem the violence though.

 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
See Joe, when you refference scifi books and old movies, I get the jokes... :)

AQI should fear however... For George Bush, he is the Kwisatz Haderach...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
The Lisan al-Gaib? "He shall know your ways as if born to them."

Personally, I recommend National Lampoon’s Doon as one of the best parodies ever done, also read their Bored of the Rings, just as good.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Unfortunately it will take time and casualties. And those are things most Congressional Democrats are unwilling to allow.

Cross out "Congressional Democrats" and insert "the U.S. military". Why do you ignore generals who tell you that 20+ brigades in Iraq is not sustainable? Answer: because you have the opportunity to blame democrats for thwarting a victory.

But as you’ll see here, the statistics show a drop in the violence and death in Baghdad since the surge. Unless you want to dispute the numbers, there’s very few other conclusions one can draw from them.

I’m glad you liked my link, McQ. So, you think a Baghdad stabilization plan that pushes violence out into the provinces at a 1/1 ratio, is any real form of victory? It doesn’t change a strategic thing. It’s like a marathon runner gearing up for a final sprint at mile 8 and still never reaching the speed of the leaders. It’s not Congressional Democrats’ fault that the U.S. Army doesn’t have the 500K extra troops needed to bring even an assumed successful surge plan out past Baghdad. The American public isn’t interested in doing it. Neither is George Bush.

And you won’t address these points; you blame Democrats because it feels good, and withdrawing feels bad, avoiding that drawdowns are coming whether congress passes a bill on it or not, and that the military solution, irrelevant of the surge, isn’t coming, now or later. And neither is the political solution - certainly not with GWB stroking the Sunni-Shiite fire for all it’s worth on the regional level and then hoping to strike cooperation on the national.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Cross out "Congressional Democrats" and insert "the U.S. military". Why do you ignore generals who tell you that 20+ brigades in Iraq is not sustainable? Answer: because you have the opportunity to blame democrats for thwarting a victory.
Uh, no. The reason 20+ brigades may not be sustainable isn’t because the generals aren’t willing to allow the time and casualties to ensure success in Iraq.

So the question and answer have nothing to do with each other. One is a matter of structural capability and the other is a lack of political will. The first can actually be adjusted for, while the latter has no cure.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

 
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