Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Iraq progress?

I'm linking an editorial from the WSJ about potential progress in Iraq because I do think it's important to read both sides of this issue. In the interest of full disclosure, the article was written by a close friend's sister (I have never met her) who happens to be the husband of the author of the "surge" strategy Fred Kagan (shame on the WSJ for not disclosing that).

While her article reads a bit like the last vestigages of someone trying to prolong US involvement in Vietnam, it is well written and fully immersed in vetted-Bush administration language. Potential problems with her work include:

- Pushing Al Queda out of one area doesn't mean they'll stay out, even if we try to hold it
- Local militias are having an effect, but only in homogenous areas, something she omits
- Military (security) improvements haven't been shown in the body count (civilian deaths still extremely high, military deaths higher than the same peroid last year and every previous year)
- A political solution is the only solution no matter how many military successes there are and there has been basically no progress on that front.

I don't wish to address those issues directly, however, as i have previously discussed them and others (like Juan Cole) are much more adept on the specifics.

What I do want to say is, be careful what you wish for. The administration (and Kagan) is making a strong case that "paramilitary" forces working with the Iraqi government and the US are making the difference. They refer to these "paramilitaries" as "concerned citizen groups".

This is essentially the real world application of "the enemy of your enemy is your friend". Any student of Colombia is aware just how that turns out.

Bottom line, a lack of a political solution makes any indications of "progress" worthless past the very short term.

(Also of note: Kagan mentions the role of Iran. This is important. There is a lot of talk about the US preparing to strike Iran. Constantly mentioning the role of Iran is one way to soften up the public to support further military action. This is Cambodia and Laos all over again.)

UPDATE: Counter article in the Washington Post that is not only actual reporting but answers some of Kagan's claims.



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