Thursday, July 24, 2008

It depends on your definition of "is"

By Carl

Of all the idiotic things for the campaigns to suddenly get bogged down in,
this has to rank right up there:

Senator John McCain was chiding Senator Barack Obama for “a false depiction of what actually happened” in Iraq in a television interview this week. But in giving his chronology of events in Iraq, Mr. McCain gave what critics said was his own false depiction.

OK, not so bad in its own right, but...

“I don’t know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened,” Mr. McCain told Katie Couric, noting that the Awakening movement began in Anbar Province when a Sunni sheik teamed up with Sean MacFarland, a colonel who commanded an Army brigade there.

[...] The Obama campaign was quick to note that the Anbar Awakening began in the fall of 2006, several months before President Bush even announced the troop escalation strategy, which became known as the surge.

Seriously, anyone who has paid attention to the Bush administration realizes that it is absurd to think that the surge started after he announced it.

Think about it: On September 12, 2001, the Bushies were already planning to hit Saddam Hussein. Even during the surge, we were warned that the limit of 20,000 additional troops would be breached and it turned out to be nearly 50% higher.

Who is going to believe that Bush had not already very quietly shifted troops deployments and rushed stop-loss orders to inflate the number of troops in what was admittedly already a tenuous and crucial province in the invasion aftermath?

Too, one has to look at the "off-sheet" military, the mercenaries, who were far easier to deploy with little to no announcement. Think of it as a transfer to a branch office.

So Obama's criticism here might be better off muted. It's a silly nitpick, and sounds somewhat desperate. This is a criticism that would be better levelled at Bush, if he makes an incredulous statement like McCain did.

The bigger issue, the one both Obama and McCain seem reluctant to discuss, is whether the surge worked. There's the meat of the debate, and naturally, the basic premise of the entire invasion rests on how effective our military strategies for restoring Iraq have been.

As a military strategy, it seems pretty clear it worked, at least the way a bug bomb works: throw enough materiel quickly at the pests, and you have a lot of dead and dying bugs.

But it's not preventative, and here I think is where the surge breaks down: the political will of the Iraqi people is not focused on defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq or the other insurgent groups, but in getting the real irritant (irritant, in this sense, meaning that which incites violence) out.

Meaning us. That Maliki's government is nearly unanimous in their praise of Obama's stated withdrawal plan-- I still don't trust him to put it into play. His big financial backers have too much at stake.-- is indicative that their focus lies elsewhere.

Getting to the bottom of that is the key to "winning" this invasion.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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