of course the title of this thread is preposterous; but surely the fact that i am in the UK, is intimately linked
to the fact that there have been no major attacks (since the oxo bombs),no?
but surely the surge of troops to Irak is intimately linked
to the reduction of violence out there no?
As he leaves Iraq this week, General David Petraeus, is sounding far less optimistic than the Republican presidential candidate. General Petraeus says recent security gains are "not irreversible" and "this is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant the flag and go home to a victory parade... it's not a war with a simple slogan."
Compare this with Sarah Palin's belief that "victory in Iraq is wholly in sight" and her criticism of Barack Obama for not using the word "victory". The Republicans have made these claims of success for the "surge" although they are demonstrably contradicted by the fact that the US has to keep more troops, some 138,000, in Iraq today than beforehand. Another barometer of the true state of security in Iraq is the inability of the 4.7 million refugees to return to their homes.
Ongoing violence is down, but Iraq is still the most dangerous country in the world. On Friday a car bomb exploded in the Shia market town of Dujail, north of Baghdad, killing 32 people and wounding 43 others.
Playing down such killings, the Iraqi government and the US have launched a largely successful propaganda campaign to convince the world that "things are better" in Iraq and that life is returning to normal. One Iraqi journalist recorded his fury at watching newspapers around the world pick up a story that the world's largest Ferris wheel was to be built in Baghdad, a city where there is usually only two hours of electricity a day.
Life in Baghdad certainly is better than it was 18 months ago, when some 60 to 100 bodies were being found beside the roads every morning, the victims of Sunni-Shia sectarian slaughter. The main reason this ended was that the battle for Baghdad in 2006-07 was won by the Shia, who now control three-quarters of the capital.
In Mosul, the government was trumpeting its success only a few months ago. It said it had succeeded in driving al-Qa'ida from the city, while the US said the number of attacks had fallen from 130 a week to 30 a week in July. But today they are back up to between 60 and 70 a week.
The perception in the US that the tide has turned in Iraq is in part because of a change in the attitude of the foreign, largely American, media. The war in Iraq has now been going on for five years, longer than the First World War, and the world is bored with it. US television networks maintain expensive bureaux in Baghdad, but little of what they produce gets on the air. When it does, viewers turn off.
An important reason for this optimism is the fall in the number of American soldiers killed. (The 30,000 US soldiers wounded in Iraq are seldom mentioned.) This has happened because the war that was being waged against the American occupation by the Sunni community, has largely ended. It did so because the Sunni were being defeated, by the Shia government and the Shia militias.
If McCain wins the presidential election in November, his lack of understanding of what is happening in Iraq could ignite a fresh conflict.
Whatever the reason for President George Bush's decision to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein in 2003, it was not to place the Shia Islamic parties in power and increase the influence of Iran in the country; yet that is exactly what has happened.
The surge only achieved the degree of success it did because Iran decided to back his government fully. It negotiated a ceasefire between the Iraqi government and the powerful movement of Muqtada al-Sadr in Basra in March and again two months later in the Sadrist stronghold of Sadr City.
It is very noticeable that in recent weeks the US has largely ceased its criticism of Iran. This is partly because of American recognition that US security in Iraq is highly dependant on Iranian actions.
General Petraeus has had a measure of success in Iraq less because of his military skills than because he was one of the few American leaders to have some understanding of Iraqi politics. If McCain supposes the US has won a military victory, and as president acts as if this were true, then he is laying the groundwork for a new war.
i am left to wonder if the 'patriotic' bravado and bluster being promoted by GOP candidates, is purely for the sustainence of conflict?
bombs make money yo!