The Surge, The Will Of The People, & Mission Accomplished genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Here in the United States, when we think of the troop surge in Iraq, we worry about the increasing number of troops who are being asked to participate in a war that seems to be endless. The Bush administration likes to tout the reduction in troop fatalities and a seeming decline in violence as evidence that the troop surge was warranted and is achieving its goal.

Unfortunately, there is more to the story...and the Guardian has a report that takes a look at the surge from the perspective of the tribes that have been enlisted to assist the U.S. in reducing the violence. According to the report, many of the Iraqis who signed up to assist the U.S. in quelling the violence and identifying al Qaeda sympathizers have yet to be paid for their efforts and are on the verge of a strike.

In his speech marking the fifth anniversary of the war George Bush highlighted the significance of what he called "the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden". Iraq, he said, "has become the place where Arabs joined with Americans to drive al-Qaida out."

But dozens of phone calls to Sahwa leaders reveal bitterness and anger. "We know the Americans are using us to do their dirty work and kill off the resistance for them and then we get nothing for it," said Abu Abdul-Aziz, the head of the council in Abu Ghraib, where 500 men have already quit.

"The Americans got what they wanted. We purged al-Qaida for them and now people are saying why should we have any more deaths for the Americans. They have given us nothing."

In Dora, a southern suburb of Baghdad, the leaders of a Sahwa group of 2,400 men said they were considering strike action because none of the 2,000 applicants they had put forward for jobs with the police and military had been accepted.

The Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki has found jobs for only a handful of the Sahwa fighters.

It seems to me that this situation demonstrates the fragile nature of the Iraqi situation. Yes, we can pay these people ten dollars daily to gain their support...but that simply points out the economic desperation of many Iraqis. I doubt the U.S. can sustain this recent success without the promise of ongoing payments...a fact that highlights just how tenuous the recent successes may be.

If we cannot continue to fund these "Awakening Councils" indefinitely, those who are participating will need to seek out other sources of income. I suspect that means two things. One, the success of the surge could instantly evaporate. Two, the underlying dynamics necessary to establish a stable and secure Iraq do not exist and may not be possible without a long term U.S. presence.

To be frank, we're simply taking advantage of people who are desperate for the means to survive. As such, should the U.S. cease supporting these individuals, they will be susceptible to the overture of others. Hence, the tribalism and sectarian strife that has plagued Iraq for many years is apt to resurface as soon as we attempt to scale back the measures that accompanied the surge.

The bottom line is that the surge has been a stopgap measure designed to buy the Bush administration the time and political cover to continue its ill-advised war. What lies beneath this facade is a fractious and fragmented society that currently lacks sustainable economic wherewithal and is struggling to find the political will to establish a functional nation.

The 2008 election is an opportunity for Americans to voice their political will. The war in Iraq will be a key consideration and it is critical that Americans have a clear understanding of the real conditions in Iraq as the next president will likely determine how much longer we will remain.

John McCain has recently sought to step back from his assertion that the United States may have to remain in Iraq for a hundred years. Those who believe that John McCain is a straight talking maverick who is willing to level with the American public must not forget his words. Political expediency may force him to modify his prediction, but there should be no doubt that McCain's resolve to remain in Iraq equals that of George Bush.

While I'm inclined to agree with the Senator that it may take decades to complete George Bush's mission in Iraq, I believe it is quite clear that it's a mission we shouldn't have undertaken. It's also a mission that must end. Neither George Bush or John McCain can will the Iraqi people to adopt the outcome we imagine would best serve our interests. Even if both men believe they can, reality should tell us we can't afford the cost.

The 2008 election is our opportunity to send an important message...a message of restoration that reconnects us with our defining principles. Consistent with the intentions of our founding fathers, it should be the will of the American people that determines whether the war in Iraq should proceed. Likewise, it must be the will of the Iraqi people that determines the defining principles that will guide their future. Only then will our mission be accomplished.

The following video was included as part of the Guardian article.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, al Qaeda, Awakening Councils, Baghdad, Diyala, George Bush, Iraq, John McCain, Troop Surge

Daniel DiRito | March 21, 2008 | 10:27 AM
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