21 January, 2008

Surging towards what?

Living in Washington, one hears lots of gloating these days from those who feel vindicated by The Surge and its supposed success. Yglesias decodes the bullshit rather satisfyingly:

The case for the surge, and the war more generally, has long been bound up in a failure to think coherently about purposes and objectives. If, instead, you throw a bunch of troops into the mix, have them do a bunch of stuff, see what happens, and then define in retrospect whatever it is they're accomplishing as the purpose of the mission, then, sure, new tactics are working. When our old tactics were aimed at having our troops wander around the desert and kill armed Sunni Arabs, we succeeded in doing that. Switch tactics to helping to train and equip these very same people, and now we're succeeding at doing that. But what are we trying to accomplish?

The Surge has decreased violence in Baghdad, but a decrease in violence was only a means to the end that political reconciliation take place. Said reconciliation has not taken place, and the troop increases that made the decrease in violence possible are not sustainable. Wherein, then, the success?

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