Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Surge - The 11 1/2 Biggest Ideas of the Year

The Surge July/August 2008 Atlantic Monthly

by James Fallows

Either the new strategy was working so well that it shouldn’t be interrupted, or
else things were still so precarious that the U.S. couldn’t afford to withdraw
now. We were back to the impossibility of talking about Iraq.

“What Americans can talk about is “the surge.” This is a concept connected to an impressive man, Army General David Petraeus, who is also controversial enough to be interesting. The surge is connected to an important intellectual trend: the revival of counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy for the U.S. military, with its emphasis on patient, person-to-person skills rather than on super-precise weaponry. And it has offered supporters of the war something that seemed lost since 2003: the chance for a new start, with things done right this time.

But a year after the surge began, more U.S. troops were in Iraq than when it started, and the argument for keeping them there had descended into circular reasoning. Either the new strategy was working so well that it shouldn’t be interrupted, or else things were still so precarious that the U.S. couldn’t afford to withdraw now. We were back to the impossibility of talking about Iraq.”

The insanity of the Surge is straightforward.

Its stated object is to defeat Al Qaeda, in Iraq. Until we invaded, the only person with any ties to Iraq, Al Zarkawi, had his base in the Kurdish No Fly Zone, under American Protection. We enabled Alqaeda in Iraq, pulled troops away from dealing with Al Qaeda's center in Afghanistan/Pakistan, allowing it and the Taliban to recover and grow stronger. So, casualties are down in Iraq, but increasing in Afghanistan. The Taliban once more controls large areas in Afghanistan. The economy runs on opium. The government of Pakistan, a nuclear power is under threat. The Surge is working. Who it's working for, is the true point of concern here.

What John McCain and George Bush have in common is the shared experience of taking a powerful military machine into the path of warhead designed to destroy it.

Insanity is performing the same experiment over and over again, while expecting a different result.


http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/surge-fallows
con·cept: The Surge - The 11 1/2 Biggest Ideas of the Year