The Surge in Delusions Is Working

On the anniversary of President Bush's decision to send an additional 30,000 US combat soldiers to Iraq, the President's neocon backers, led by Senators McCain and Lieberman, are proclaiming the surge a success (C&L has the story). And from their perspective it is a success, even though the surge achieved none of the President's stated goals. But I doubt those were ever the real goals.

It seems more likely that the strategic goal -- apart from not wanting to be perceived as having "lost" Iraq -- was to prolong the US military occupation in the heart of the Middle East as a counter to Iran. Whatever their effect on the Iraq front, the 30,000 additional combat troops would be positioned forward as a means of putting pressure on Iran. By sheer luck, however, the forward strategy got an unexpected boost when the Sunni tribes in Anbar and elsewhere turned on their more radical allies -- those the Administration wants us to call "al Qaeda" -- and stopped fighting Americans.

General Petraeus then bet that by bankrolling the Sunni Awakening Councils, he could essentially create and arm a counterforce to the Iranian influence without instigating a massive civil war with the Shia government. We've essentially bought and armed an 80,000 man Sunni militia ready to do war with the Iranian-backed Shia, and perhaps the Iranians themselves. It's crazy and reckless, but the recklessly crazy neocons are thrilled at the prospects.

Even Petraeus doesn't know whether his bet was wise or foolhardy. Bush and Petraeus created conditions that require us to remain there, perhaps indefinitely, to make sure our bought and paid for Sunni militia doesn't turn on the Shia government that refuses to include them.


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