Pushing Fighters


Here's a telling bit from The Washington Post's account of yesterday's bombings in Iraq: "U.S. military commanders have said that major military efforts in and around Baghdad have pushed fighters to the areas north of the capital, often to rural or mountainous hideouts, where there are fewer troops pursuing them."

Two morals from this story. One is that aside from the "surge" -- the temporary increase in the overall number of American forces in Iraq -- we've seen a surge-within-the-surge, an increase in the Baghdad-centricity of our deployments. The other is that outside of this surged areas, there haven't been any security gains. There's no change, in short, in the nationwide dynamic.

So what happens when we start de-surging?

Well, things will just get worse again. After all, when the goal of the surge was outlines as creating space and time for national political reconciliation, that wasn't something Bush and Petraeus just pulled out of their asses. A temporary increase in force levels aimed at creating a temporary increase in security doesn't, after all, sound like much of a strategy. So they said that the temporary increase in troops would lead to a temporary increase in security which would lead to political reconciliation which, in turn, would lead to sustainable security gains. But it hasn't happened. So when we start desurging, we're just going to find that nothing's changed and nothing's been accomplished.

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Angelica Golindano