In my efforts to combat the campaign of misinformation regarding the “success of the surge,” I have blogged about the efficacy of Sunni payoffs and the new strategic ops program Bob Woodward has brought to light.
I’m sure many of you saw the new report that came out yesterday indicating the ethnic cleansing in Iraqi neighborhoods has been the “primary factor” in reduced violence in Iraq, especially in Baghdad. Whether ethnic cleansing was THE primary factor or not, I cannot say, but am sure it was a very large component – much larger than Bush’s surge – in reducing violence.
Sunni payoffs are also a primary factor in their “Awakening”, placing into question the stability of the decreased violence should the U.S. decide to reduce payoffs to Sunni tribes as our forces are withdrawn. Furthermore, there are around a million Shia refugees that will be looking to return to Iraq as reconstruction, which has been an abysmal failure, continues. Violence in the Anbar province and Baghdad continues to be very fragile. Despite the existence of ethnically-cleansed neighborhoods, poverty breeds violence and the payoffs ensure tribesmen do not look singularly to killing to “get what’s theirs.”
Developments to transition the security burden to the Iraqi government, however, are in progress. As the Associated Press reported yesterday, “The Iraqi government will begin paying the salaries of about 54,000 of the mostly Sunni fighters in Baghdad Province who joined the fight against al-Qaida.” Unfortunately, the article does not state that the U.S. is currently paying those salaries and gives the impression that the Iraqi government is “all of the sudden” offering payments to Sunnis. Obviously, Iraq – who stands to make between $67 and $79 billion in oil sales this year – has the cash to offer these payments despite the ubiquitous corruption in the government’s ranks.
This increased role by the Iraqi government is certainly a sign that there is a possibility of violence remaining at a reduced state as the U.S. refocuses its military efforts where they should be: Afghanistan.
What is most irritating as the election enters its final stage is the reluctance by Democrat leaders, besides Biden, to point out the other variables that reduced violence in Iraq and suck the air out of Republicans’ continual misleading about the results of the surge. Just this Sunday on 60 Minutes, Obama again failed to give a comprehensive response to claims about the surge:
Kroft: Iraq. When we talked to you the first time, back in February of 2007, you had proposed, at that time, a piece of legislation that would have had all the troops out in 16 months. Which means they would have been out by today, if it would have been passed. We would have missed the surge. We would have missed the reduction in violence.
Obama: Oh, wait, wait, wait, Steve. I mean, now you’re just engaging in a huge hypothetical. We don’t know what would have happened if we had initiated the plan that I put forward at the beginning of 2007. And the fact of the matter is that, as successful as our troops have been in lowering the violence in Iraq, and they have performed brilliantly. But the truth of the matter is we still don’t have an oil agreement. We still don’t have provincial elections. The commanders on the ground themselves acknowledge that the political progress that’s needed has not been made. So we all welcome the reduction in violence, but the notion that somehow this was the only way for us to solve the problem, and that the problem has been solved, I completely disagree with.
He really needs to get with the program ahead of this Friday’s debate on national security. Cowtowing to uninformed notions that honesty regarding military situations – especially troop activities – is somehow unpatriotic is no way to lead. A presentation of the facts is the best and most effective way to pop McCain’s false surge balloon. Simply saying, “We don’t know what would have happened if we didn’t go ahead with the surge,” does not get the job done, and presents a weak and disingenuous message. And that goes for all Democrats – not just Obama.