Monday, July 09, 2007

Something to keep in mind in the coming weeks and months as the debate rages on whether Bush's surge is working...

The ultimate goal of throwing more troops into Iraq was not simply to kill lots of insurgents (both the domestic variety as well as Al Qaeda imports) or cut down the number of Iraqis killed by insurgents, it was to kill lots of insurgents and make things a bit safer for the Iraqis in order to give the Iraqis some breathing room to get their act together, militarily and politically.

Sure, we'd like fewer Iraqis killed. Sure, we'd like to kill more insurgents. But that alone doesn't really do much for turning Iraq into Bush's democratic dreamland. What is needed is for Iraq's various factions to agree to share power and resources and to give up on using violence to accomplish their goals. They need to put together a functioning civil society. They need to get their act together.

They haven't done so yet. They (along with their chief enabler, Bush) have lots of reasons why they haven't, with excuse number one that the violence keeps them from being able to do so.

And I don't believe them. If they really truly wanted to, they would have, violence or not. If they truly wanted to marginalize factions such as Al Sadr, they would have. If they truly wanted to build themselves a military and police force that wasn't merely an extension of the local militias, they would have.

And as such, the absence (or significant reduction) in the level of violence isn't going to prompt them to do what they haven't wanted to do before. They'll simply come up with yet another reason, another excuse.

So in the coming months, as Bush's kool-aid drinking supporters trot out statistics to show that there will have been fewer deaths due to hostile action than before the surge, skim past that and look for the evidence that Iraq's army is stepping up and taking control, that Iraq's leaders are pulling things together and so on.

My guess is that you (we) won't see any of this and that Bush will hope that, unlike Sherlock Holmes, you won't notice what is missing.