Friday, August 31, 2007

Iraq

The surge has increased the number of US held captives in Iraq since February from 16,000 to 24,500. Juan Cole graphed the stats from the reporting NYT article to show us who the bad guys are:



Assuming that the ratio of those we've captured in Iraq can be applied to represent those we're actually fighting there, the data says a lot about the al-Qaeda-in-Iraq sleight of hand Bush has been pulling. To hear him speak, you'd think Iraq was on the verge of falling to al-Qaeda. And, since raising the specter of al-Qaeda in Iraq does much to keep the loyal base supportive of his war, I don't expect him to start telling us the truth anytime soon.

Perhaps it sounded cynical to say at the time but I thought it was pretty predictable that al-Qaeda would not be compatible with Iraq. The so-called al-Qaeda in Iraq share no ideological alliance with the Sunni, the Shia, or the Kurds. They popped up like opportunists in Anbar and Diyala to take advantage of the chaos until they overstepped and earned the wrath of the sheiks. The US happily parleyed that into success but it was sort of an inevitable success. Don't get me wrong -- I couldn't be happier to see a bunch of psychopaths meet defeat. And certainly I am delighted that the military has found a way to work with the Sunni sheiks. I just don't understand how people can extrapolate the victory in Anbar and Diyala to mean that the surge is "working". It's kind of like performing a tonsilectomy on a cancer patient. Sure, the tonsils are no longer inflamed but that really wasn't the primary threat.

So, IS the surge working? I have no idea. I don't trust that the news media has the whole story and I sure as hell don't think the Bush administration would tell us the truth even if we put electrodes on their testicals and waterboarded them for 12 straight hours. It kinda sounds like the troops are achieving some military results wherever they've been placed. Whether they're playing whack-a-mole again, I do not know. Whether the military achievements will have any effect at all on the political scheme, I am still extremely doubtful. For one thing, they can't keep up the 'surge' indefinitely (an undeniable fact). If Bush plans to compliment the surge with the removal of Maliki from power (replacing him with Allawi?), then he's only prolonging the inevitable. That desperate move might be the only one left on the board but I find it difficult to believe it's going to create victory in Iraq.

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