Sunday, March 11, 2007

so, is that surge working?

Neocon columnist and avid surge proponent Robert Kagan says yes, the surge is working. Well, at least he says there is evidence that it might be working.

So, what evidence does Kagan give us? He says some Iraqi bloggers say that there was a positive psychological impact. That's nice. Hard to prove, but nice.

Again quoting some Iraqi blogger, Kagan says that some leaders of militias have "abandoned their positions." That is surely true. It also doesn't mean anything. Any leader of irregular forces with half a brain will "abandon their position" when faced with a determined regular unit of the US Army or Marines. That's called "living to fight another day," and it is a classic insurgent strategy, seen in Vietnam and Algeria and Afghanistan (when the Soviets were in there). That is not proof that the escalation I mean surge is "working" yet.

Again, Kagan said some Iraqi blogger was encouraged that this time, the US and Iraqi governments "mean it" and are committing the necessary resources. Let's check on that again in six months or a year, shall we? Because if all that was ever needed were "the necessary resources," well it's a damn shame we didn't try that four years ago, isn't it?

The mood is getting better, Kagan says, in Baghdad. Nifty, although I suspect the mood among the friends and families of the hundreds of Iraqis STILL being killed every week is not quite so buoyant.

I cannot say that the surge is doomed to fail. But it is way too early to call it a success or to be able to make any judgment on it. Chinese Communist Chou En-Lai in the 1970s famously responded to a question about his assessment of the French Revolution, that it was too early to tell. It is definitely too soon to call the surge a success or failure. Kagan by now should realize that merely wishing it doesn't make it so.


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