March 19, 2007

Baghdad Under Surge

Patrick Cockburn on "the biggest exodus of refugees in the Middle East since Palestinians were forced from their homes at the time of the creation of Israel in 1948"...
If Iraqis believed that President Bush's famous troop 'surge', the dispatch of a further 21,500 American to Iraq announced in January, would stop these massacres then they might welcome the new Baghdad security plan. But they have seen such plans come and go before without result. It is extraordinary that three-and-a-half years after the US captured Baghdad it still controls so little of the city. At the end of January US and Iraqi army soldiers were trying to fight their way intoHaifa Street, a district with a population of 170,000 people that has long been a bastion of Sunni insurgents, though it is less than a mile from the Green Zone. I started reading a New York Times piece about Haifa Street entitled 'There are Signs That the Tide may be Turning on Iraq's Street of Fear' I had found in a file. It seemed to be well-informed but then I noticed that the date of the article was 21 March 2005 and it was an optimistic account of one of the US army's previous failed offensives in Haifa Street almost two years ago...

The true reason for Bush's anti-Iranian policy may be that it makes most sense in terms of American domestic politics. Ever since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was first mooted the White House has shown itself more interested in holding power in Washington than in Baghdad. Bush went to war in Iraq in 2003 because, having overthrown the Taliban so easily inAfghanistan, he thought he would win an easy victory in Iraq, to his great political advantage at home. In this he was partly right since the Iraqis did not fight for Saddam Hussein. But they also rapidly showed that they did not intend to be permanently occupied by the US. Spurious turning points were exaggerated or invented to show progress in the war: Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, power was supposedly handed over to an Iraqi government in 2004, elections were held in 2005, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed by US bombs in 2006. None of these supposed successes made any real difference on the battlefield but all were used to demonstrate that American was not simply caught in a bloody stalemate. For the White House the real victories were won at home in the US and not in Iraq. The moment American voters realized the depth of the failure in Iraq was postponed long enough for Bush to win the Presidential election in 2004 and hold onto both Houses of Congress until 2006.
Hey, Dick! How much money is Halliburton going to make out of the coming war with Iran?


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