A reader writes:
Speaking of the Iraq surge, you write that:I did not foresee the drop in violence in Iraq - although I did foresee the failure of the surge to achieve political reconciliation.
The truth, I believe, is that the surge had little to do with the drop in violence. Part of the drop in violence is attributable to diplomatic gains in the Anbar province (where no extra troops were sent, incidentally), and most of the rest is simply due to the basic nature of ethnic conflict: it drops off in intensity when affected areas become ethnically segregated. What was the violence in Baghdad? Sunni fighting Shia, Shia fighting Sunni, driving them out of their homes and killing them. It's a pattern that we've seen time and time again: Serbs fighting Kosovars, Christians and Muslims in Bosnia, Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda. The groups fight, they kill each other, they drive each other out of their homes ... but there are only so many people to kill, fight, and, more importantly, drive away. Once they're all gone--once all the Tutsis are dead, once all the Kosovars are driven out of an area, once those who have not abandoned Baghdad are living in ethnically segregated ghettos--the violence drops off in intensity simply because there aren't any enemies left in convenient proximity.
That the winding down of this process coincided with the one year anniversary of the surge is not a testament to its success.