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The Movie We’ve Seen Before

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It looks like the Sunni insurgents in Iraq, far from being cowed by the mighty prowess of Bush’s troop escalation surge, are simply biding their time until the escalation, which cannot be sustained as our armed forces are falling apart from overuse, comes to its eventual end:

Iraq’s main Sunni-led resistance groups have scaled back their attacks on US forces in Baghdad and parts of Anbar province in a deliberate strategy aimed at regrouping, retraining, and waiting out George Bush’s "surge", a key insurgent leader has told the Guardian.

US officials recently reported a 55% drop in attacks across Iraq. One explanation they give is the presence of 30,000 extra US troops deployed this summer. The other is the decision by dozens of Sunni tribal leaders to accept money and weapons from the Americans in return for confronting al-Qaida militants who attack civilians. They call their movement al-Sahwa (the Awakening).

[…]

Besides Ramadi, the Awakening movement was also operating in Sunni-majority districts of Baghdad, such as Ameriya, Adhamiya, and parts of Ghazaliya and Jihad, Omary said. He predicted it was unlikely to last for more than a few months. It was a "temporary deal" with the US and would split apart as people realised the Americans’ true intentions.

He cited last week’s announcement that the Bush administration plans to work with the Shia-led government of Nuri al-Maliki on arrangements for long-term US military bases and an open-ended occupation in Iraq.

Seems to me I’ve seen this movie before. Oh, right, this was predicted by Dennis Jett nearly a year ago, when Bush first announced his "surge" plans:

The year 2007 undoubtedly will bring its share of unexpected events. But here is one that should catch nobody by surprise: President Bush’s announcement early in the New Year that he is sending more troops to Iraq.

He will justify the "surge" in the number of soldiers as absolutely essential for "victory." They are really needed for one last desperate attempt to save his place in history, however.

Before the November elections, he asserted that the United States absolutely was winning in Iraq. Now that even he admits that is not true, a change in policy would seem in order. Officially he is reviewing the situation, gathering advice and considering his options. That is just so much theater.

[…]

The last step is to come up with a mission for the troops to do. Colin Powell, the president’s chief enabler when it came to going to war, is now trying to improve his image by pointing out an increase makes no sense without a mission.

A mission will be conjured up despite the fact there is little that can be accomplished with more American troops. The sources of violence in Iraq mainly are Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents. The militias often are part of the Iraqi government, however.

The most recent example of that is the operation undertaken by British troops on Christmas Day in the southern city of Basra. They attacked and destroyed a police station because the unit headquartered there was little more than a Shiite death squad. The Sunni insurgents can be repressed, but only for a time and at tremendous cost. If the cost is too high for the insurgents, they can retreat and wait out the surge.

Gee, that’s exactly what they’re doing now. Who’d a’ thunk it?

Dennis Jett, that’s who, and pretty much everyone else with sense:

There is no way forward in Iraq because the sectarian divide has become too deep, the corrupting influence of oil revenue is too strong and the intervention of neighboring states too destructive and pervasive. The president can’t erase the divide or reduce the corruption. And, trapped by his own rhetoric, he won’t even talk to Iran and Syria.

No comment. None necessary.

(Graphic by soldiersmediacenter and posted on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.)

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