Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bacevich: Iraq ‘surge’ deliberately designed to force long-term U.S. presence

That’s just one of the charges Bacevich levels at the Bush Administration, American Enterprise Institute and other neocon fellow travelers in a Washington Post column.

In only one respect has the surge achieved undeniable success: It has ensured that U.S. troops won't be coming home anytime soon. This was one of the main points of the exercise in the first place.

As AEI military analyst Thomas Donnelly has acknowledged with admirable candor, “part of the purpose of the surge was to redefine the Washington narrative,” thereby deflecting calls for a complete withdrawal of U.S. combat forces. Hawks who had pooh-poohed the risks of invasion now portrayed the risks of withdrawal as too awful to contemplate. But a prerequisite to perpetuating the war — and leaving it to the next president — was to get Iraq off the front pages and out of the nightly news. At least in this context, the surge qualifies as a masterstroke.

Beyond that, Bacevich points out that the Anbar Awakening has actually made what passes for a central government in Baghdad even less “sovereign” than before, and that it, more than the additional U.S. troops, is responsible for the decline in casualties in the second half of 2007.

And, in some way, shape or form, all the remaining Democratic presidential candidates not named Dennis Kucinich are willing to sign off on “long-term presence lite,” to put it bluntly. None has given a full-blows critique of the Anbar Awakening. None has explained how “long-term presence lite” will really advance U.S. interests or force Iraq’s central government to do something beyond what it is doing now and do it differently. None has come out against the oil privatization law; especially, none has noted its illegality under international law.