The Surge Is Working?

It has been one year since President Bush announced his 'surge' campaign to quell sectarian violence and to expedite our troop withdrawal in Iraq. He O.K.'d the 'surge' to give the Iraqi Government time to accomplish certain "benchmarks" that the U.S. says is needed for Iraqis to take control of their own country (which we FUBAR'd). Well, has the surge worked?

According to many pundits and news channels, the 'surge' is working. Some pundits are saying the 'surge' was a huge success. How do you determine if the 'surge' worked even a little to secure Iraq for the future?

Just acknowledging the degree of 'surge' success is a major debate, but any debate on HOW WELL IT HAS WORKED bodes well for the neocons in power. The Democrats insist that the plan's "success" is limited, because its main goal, "political reconciliation," has not been reached. Republicans, assorted neocons, and some in the Administration are already doing modest victory dances. The newest New York Times columnist, William Kristol (neocon, FOX news pundit), writes just last week: "It's apparently impermissible for leading Democrats to acknowledge--let alone celebrate--progress in Iraq."

Well, Let the Celebration Begin!!!! Neocon and Conservative pundits are discussing how WELL THE 'SURGE' HAS DONE, while the Democrats are not saying a word about the 'surge' (they are waiting to see where the chips fall to determine what they are gonna say about it - how pansie-like). All this favors and increases the dick size of all the neocons in the White House. No wonder, as Michael Abramowitz of the Washington Post put it, Bush's meeting in Kuwait with Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, as well as his comments to a rally of 3,000 hoo-ahing US troops, "had the air of a VICTORY LAP for a president whose decision to raise the troop levels in Iraq last year was questioned not only by Democrats but also by many Republicans and even generals at the Pentagon."

This will be the main goal of the Republicans this year. To gain hold of some kind of political and military "victory" in Iraq. Get ready for the big push of "success" and "mission accomplished"-like talk and we "got them on the run" and they are in their '"last throes".

There are many changes that happened in Iraq during the later-half of the surge. Troop and civilian death rates are much lower in the past six months. The number of I.E.D. being exploded and suicide bombers are lower. The Anbar Province is relatively peaceful as compared to the pre-'surge' condition.

The Sunni Muslim "al Qaida in Iraq" (not to be confused with the real al Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan) either seem to be in retreat or are in hiding, re-thinking the strategy or licking their wounds. More importantly, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr's murderous Mahdi Army militia has largely stood down as he ordered it to last August.

In Baghdad, there are sections that have some semblance of life. Outdoor markets are resurfacing; shoppers are coming out of their houses to purchase goods instead of staying hidden, fearful of suicide bombers and death squads.

Residents are returning to Iraq from the surrounding refugee camps outside of the country. Around 20,000 Iraqis have returned (compared to the 2,000,000 that fled). A start, however small, but some are returning over hearing about the better situation in the country; also because countries like Syria are throwing out the refugees.

How much of this increase in security was due to a 30,000 troop increase? A level that was met two years ago with no change in the region. What changed this time? Sure, you can say with the installation of General David Petraeus as the new U.S. commander and a change in military strategy thanks to him that helped out a little, but most of the security change comes from the Iraqi's themselves. Most of the violence and reconciliation was homegrown by the Iraqi people.

We don't know why Sadr stood down his murdering militia for six months beginning last August or why, he may extend the truce. What is said is that his militia was, at the height of the killing, responsible for more than 60 percent of American combat deaths in Iraq.

The Anbar province almost overnight has ceased to be a killing field for American Marines because the local tribal sheiks had enough of the jihadists they sheltered. When they began killing the sheikhs themselves and imposing their idea of Islamic law — cutting off the heads of barbers, bootleggers and women not sufficiently subservient — they crossed the line.

It was easy enough for the sheikhs to begin dropping the dime to the American forces on the jihadists.

More important, the sheikhs decided to stop their own Sunni insurgency and stop killing Americans.

So, in review, the main factors that reduced the security situation in Iraq was not directly a result of a 'surge' of U.S. troops or Iraqi Government intervention. The main reason troop and civilians are not getting killed as much is that those who did the killings - Sunni's and Shiite's - are not doing the killing like they did six months ago.

So, what are the U.S. troops accomplishing in Iraq? Since the 'evil-doers' are not killing as much. What are the troops doing? They are going after the "al Qaida in Iraq". If you need to bomb an area to justify your existence, you just need to say you are after "al Qaida in Iraq". Then you have disgusting stories like these. Below is a blog entry by Leila Fadel, the Baghdad bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers. She has been covering the War in Iraq since 2005.
December 12, 2007
Stray Bullets

Suheila Hammad held her daughter in her arms before dawn on Tuesday. Outside she heard the U.S. Special Forces and the Iraqi Army in her area just south of Fallujah.

First they raided a home two doors down, blew the doors out and went in looking for their target. The soldiers pulled the family out of the home and the second floor was destroyed, the family said. A picture shows a burned out room and shattered glass.

The soldiers progressed to the second house, searching for their target, an Al Qaida in Iraq member who was believed responsible for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces.

At the second house in this place, once an Al Qaida bastion, they blew the doors off and pulled the residents from the house. The Iraqi soldiers toyed with them, telling them to raise their arms up, drop their arms and raise them again.

A few soldiers walked away speaking a language the families didn't understand. It was then that a bullet pierced the window where Suheila held her daughter Hadil. The bullet pierced Hadil's neck and passed through her, embedding in the wall of the room. No one came into the house and Suheila was too afraid to call out for help, she said.

Hadil bled to death in her mother’s arms. Three men were detained, two were later released. The U.S. military said the man detained is an Al Qaida in Iraq member. There were no reports of Hadil's death, they said.

This morning Ali walked into my room. He works at the hotel where our offices are housed. We chat while he works most mornings. Today he was visibly tired.

"How's your neighborhood," I asked.

"Not good Leila, not good," he replied. He stopped his work and walked over to my desk.

"They came at 3 a.m. looking for someone from the Mahdi Army," he said, referring to the U.S. military. The Shiite militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr controls his neighborhood.

He described how the "Amerkan," the Americans, pulled him and his family from their beds and forced them against the walls, guns pointed to their backs. The U.S. soldiers had broken down the doors and taken them by surprise, looking for their target.

His daughter and son , Wafaa, 6, and Hussein, 7, shook with fear. Because I didn't understand the word shiver, he impersonated his children quivering. The soldiers searched the home and found nothing. They told Ali he could file for compensation for the damages they caused.

"After this, why would I want their money," he said.

Last month a child and two men were killed as they rushed through a military checkpoint while the U.S. military were conducting an operation in Bayji. A U.S. military official estimated the child was about three years old. In Baghdad up to four people were killed, including three women, when a mini-bus ended up on a road meant only for car traffic. Bank employees on the bus were killed when soldiers fired warning shots that fragmented and hit the bus.

These deaths were not deliberate. But Suheila does not have her daughter, a three-year-old was shot as he huddled in the back of a car and two young people forever associate Americans with the fear they felt in the middle of the night when foreign soldiers burst into their home.

This is not an isolated incident. With an increase in aerial bombings by U.S. aircraft (over a several hour period the first week of January, 2008, 40,000 lbs of bombs were dropped on 'strategic targets'). If there is an increase in bombing, then the civilian death toll will ultimately increase. Whether the Iraqi death toll be at 150,000 or 600,000 (depending on what slant you want to go by), any increase in the deaths of Iraqi's undermines the 'peace' (i use that word verrry, looosly) that we are currently in.

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