Friday, September 7, 2007

Withdraw or Increase the Surge?

News reports bounce back and forth between vilifying and supporting the idea of continuing the president’s surge in Iraq. During his Iraq visit, President Bush touted the reduced violence in Anbar Province as proof that the surge is working. Of course, he ignored the fact that while increased troops in Anbar have reduced violence by ½, violence has increased fivefold in Diala Province.

Additionally, the claim of decreased violence anywhere is questionable at best. That claim is carefully worded so that the count of deaths and casualties by only includes “sectarian” violence. The Army doesn’t count deaths by suicide and car bombers as sectarian violence so the count they are touting didn’t include little items like the 500 deaths in a single August bombing.

Increasing our troops in one area or another always causes a bulge in violence somewhere else. It happened with Fallujah and it happened with Baghdad. When we focus our attention on one area, insurgents simply move their base of operations to areas where our troop strength is thinner.

Well, you say, isn’t that an argument for increasing our troop strength to cover all of Iraq? The answer is yes it is, but it is only an effective argument if you accept two assumptions: one, that the U.S. has the troops available to increase strength all over Iraq to the levels the surge placed in Anbar Province and two, that an extremely large, permanent American force in Iraq is desirable. In my opinion, neither of these conditions is possible, let alone desirable.

No one seems to be talking about another obvious problem with Mr. Bush’s idea of continuing the surge and that is that as long as our ground troops are engaged in Iraq they are not available to protect us here at home. One of the war supporters’ catch phrases is, “Better to fight them there than to fight them here.”, but the fact is that Iraq never threatened us here. The foreign threat to America comes from expatriated Saudis who are now primarily located in Pakistan. We probably also have some home-grown terrorists who are more likely to blow up some public utilities or venues than to launch another 9-11 style attack. (See “Homegrown radicals emerging as threat”)

It appears to me that we should give troop reductions in Iraq serious consideration in order to 1) assure Iraqis that we really are not there as occupiers, 2) relieve the unholy pressure we have put on our troops by holding undefined tours of duty over their heads like Damocles’ sword, and 3) free up our National Guard to do the job for which they were formed. i.e. protect the nation.

It is high time to recognize that the surge is really a splurge in which our national resources (including that most precious resource the lives and well-being of our military men and women) are being thrown into the black hole of unnecessary war.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

No comments: