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Democrats Should Agree: The Surge Isn’t Working

This caught my eye (via Yglesias):

Clinton and Obama’s divergent views on the troop surge in Iraq, however, were plainly visible.

When Bush proclaimed, “Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among terrorists there is no doubt,” Clinton sprang to her feet in applause but Obama remained firmly seated. The president’s line divided most of the Democratic audience, with nearly half standing to applaud and the other half sitting in stony silence.

I don’t understand why half of the Democrats are applauding that. The point of the surge, as Bush made very clear last January:

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.

How’s all that going?

The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government breathing space for reconciliation, and so far, there has been little of that. The legislation which the president sought and the "benchmarks" that he called for last year have largely not been met. There is no oil law. There have been no provincial elections. In his speech, the president noted that the Iraqi parliament recently passed a de-Baathification law; but he failed to mention that the measure is far more restrictive than the one the Bush administration had wanted.

Since the surge was announced, 937 Americans have been killed in Iraq. Last month, more Americans were killed than in June, 2003. For…what exactly? So that Iraq may at some point get around to getting some of the things on Bush’s laundry list done, so that may in turn lead to some form of government that’s possibly functional at some point in the future. Great.

A reduction in violence to 2003 levels was not the goal of the surge. Political reconciliation was. BushCo doesn’t need our help in rewriting history. And we sure as hell shouldn’t be applauding a failed policy that has taken the lives of 937 more Americans and who knows how many Iraqis just so Bush could pass the buck to the next President.


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