The Unexpected Success of the Surge

That I was wrong, and John McCain was right, on an issue that I cared and thought a lot about is a driving force behind my endorsement of the Senator. While I was calling for withdrawal and criticizing the surge for slowing the ethnic cleansing that would be needed if Iraq was to cleanly fracture into three sovereign states, Senator McCain, Secretary Gates, and General Petreaus used better knowledge and better opinions than mine to craft our current Iraq strategy.

As success after success mount for the Surge, men like Muqtada al Sadr who once looked like the future are now justly seen as has-beens: marginal figures who will try their best, but seem to have little real influence or power. Indeed, the Surge has been so successful that it is replicating its success, as the Iraqi Government’s Mini-Me Surge in Basra, which met with similar opposition, is seeing similar success.

I was wrong on the Surge. So was Barack Obama. I admit that. Obama’s camp denies it. That’s typical. McCain supporters
(such as myself) can now crow about the wisdom & foresightedness of their candidate on one of the most pressing issues of the day. Obama supporters instead are reduced to Iraqi gotchas, of the “I was conceived by Red Army soldiers liberated Auschwitz under sniper fire” variety.

It will be interesting to see who wins in November. Both candidates have pluses (presuming that the Democratic Party gives the nomination to Barack Obama, and not popular-vote-winner Hillary Clinton. Still, as I vote on such provincial matters as having the correct beliefs, making the right sacrifices, and supporting wise policies when it mattered, I will be voting for John McCain.

3 thoughts on “The Unexpected Success of the Surge”

  1. It seems to me — and I am an ignorant hick — that the surge is just a temporary supression of violence, and fails to address the desperation and poverty that’s the root cause of the violence. In the long run, things could get much uglier.

  2. Justin,

    Here it may be useful to compare Iraq to Syria, another neighboring country with many of the same systemic problems as Iraq. Certainly it would be foolish to expect Iraq to approach western levels of development soon, just as it would be simplistic to expect Syria to do so. Nonetheless, Syria is not currently experiencing a high-intensity insurgency. Indeed, many countries in dire straits are not.

    So the Surge is working — I believe violence has now been as a 4-year low for a solid month, partially because of our efforts and partially because of the Iraqi pacification of Basra — and while victory of course brings its own troubles, we would rather have the problems of victory than the problems of defeat.

    That said, Iraq remains in the Gap.

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