Unfortunately, no one seems to be calling our elected officials or the traditional media on this nonsensical idea that the “Petraeus strategy” should be credited with stanching the flow of blood. No one seems to notice that, as with everything else in Iraq, the Iraqis are going to do what they want, when they want. When al-Sadr lays down his arms, there will be relative peace. When he takes them up, Americans will die in dozens.
Regardless, the fortunes of Iraq will turn on Iraqi decisions made in Baghdad and Najaf, not in Washington, D.C. and the halls of Congress. As this situation shows, peace in Iraq lies in the hands of Iraqis. It cannot—and will not—be forced by Americans at the point of a gun.
The Surge is not our strategy and he is correct that it is not responsible for the tremendous success in Baghdad, the surrounding belts, Al Anbar, Diyala and now even in some of the Shia tribal areas as well. Our strategy is Counter-Insurgency (COIN) and the additional troops, known as the Surge, are simply part of that effort along with every other military member and civilian over there. Read LTC Kilcullen for an elegant primer on COIN in the Small Wars Journal.
COIN is completely different than the nation-building and national institution-building that we had been doing since toppling Saddam and up until the beginning of this year. We had hunkered down on the FOBs heading out on patrols and then back inside the wire. Now we cleared areas and then stayed and lived side by side with the Iraqis, and once they saw that we were staying they “awakened” and determined that al Qaeda brought death and destruction and the Americans brought electricity and water, not to mention security.
Given the screaming from those quarters over the impossibility of what we see happening just a month and a half ago (when it was well on its way) this is truly telling about what the priorities are in netroots land.
Of course it is refreshing for them to notice that things are improving.
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