Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Surge

Can we say it's not working? In the past few days intense fighting has erupted again in Iraq. The biggest clashes are between Iraqi security forces and Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army in Basra.

The drop in Iraqi violence over the past few months was generally attributed to four things: "1) More American forces and the change in tactics to counterinsurgency; 2) The Awakening movement; 3) The Sadr ceasefire; and 4) The ethnic cleansing and physical separation of the various sides." Possibly the Sadr ceasefire was the key.

The recent battles erupted after followers of Sadr called for a nationwide civil disobedience campaign to protest raids and detentions by U.S. and Iraqi forces. But this is more than civil disobedience. From Newsweek, the attacks "could be Sadr’s way of announcing that his militias will revert to the mayhem they’ve caused in the past if they don’t get their share of local power."

So the evidence is that this war is a civil war -- a war where different groups within a country or culture fight each other for political power. It is a political problem and not a military problem. So is there really any benefit to the U.S. military staying in the middle of this for another year or 100 years?

Can we benefit from cost-benefit analysis? Is there really any Responsible Plan? Will we ever meet all of Bush's 18 benchmarks?

Oh, don't look at me for those answers. I just know that the surge is not working.

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