In our world of Presidential politics, we have John McCain speaking in platitudes about how all his "experience", like being a prisoner of war for five years in lieu of being in combat, has better prepared him for the role of commander-in-chief than the thoughtful Barack Obama. He has bragged incessantly that he had proposed the "surge" strategy long before it was adopted and in essence is taking credit for its success.
Right. Now that the Georgian/Russian situation is rambling on to who knows what conclusion and our ally, if a somewhat shaky one, Musharraf of Pakistan has been sent packing, it's time to return to the scenes of yesteryear! The war in Iraq!
Yep. It's still going on, so I decided to revisit the "surge" strategy to see if it's still holding. An AP article gave me a good start. First, though, we need to remember the reason for the surge. It was to quell the violence enough so the government had time to make some headway on goals we had set for them, including rebuilding their military to the point they can begin standing on their own.
We found this was easier said than done so we embarked on what I always felt was an ill conceived strategy. The Sunni portion of the population were getting tired of al-Quida, the out of country mischief makers, interrupting their efforts to regain their place from the Shiia who control the government. So they joined forces with the U.S. to defeat al-Quida Iraq. For a price; some $200 million total! We paid them and trained them and armed them. We made them mercenaries and because we were, essentially the highest bidder, they did our bidding. Not for just the money, mind you. As in any good drama, they had an ulterior motive. Get rid of al-Quida so they could get back to trying to vanquish the Shiia. They succeeded, to a point. Al-Quida Iraq has been pretty well decimated.
But, uh oh! A glitch! Now the Shiia are flexing their muscles against the Sunni fighters, our allies in the surge. They want no part of the Sunnis regaining any sort of foothold. One Shiia official said, "The continuation of the Awakening Councils as they are now is unacceptable."
From the opposing side, this,"We fought the Americans for four years and we fought al-Quida too. We are an experienced armed group. We are fully capable of bringing the house down." "An experienced armed group." Yep $200 million worht!
And from the American side, our guys in the middle, this, "It has put money in the local economy and reduced attacks on coalition forces. You can see where the money is going - an irrigation pump here, a renovated house there."
Do we need a reality check or what? They are lucky if they have electricity in Baghdad four hours a day!
The Sunni tribesmen who joined with U.S. forces were named the Awakening Councils. Yeah. They were wide awake to the multitude of benefits they might derive.
This is what the "surge" has wrought. We have helped rearm a contingent of the population bent on destroying those currently holding the cards. We are right smack dab in the middle. Does a re"surge"nt possibility of civil war ring a bell?
If this is the measure of success of which McCain boasts of being the mastermind, I'll take my chances with a more thoughtful Obama in a New York minute!