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The Surge™ Is Working

The last quarter of Rosen’s article addresses Iraq’s current security situation. “There is no ‘surge,’” Rosen says.

At best it can be called an ooze, a slow increase of American occupying forces by a mere 15 percent, consisting of few new soldiers and many whose terms of service have been merely extended. Yet the U.S. has doubled the size of its mission, announcing it will also take on the Shia militias as well as the Sunni ones. On the ground, that means American soldiers secure areas and then hand them over to Iraqi security forces who impose a reign of terror on the inhabitants. In the Iraqi civil war the army and police are not the solution; they are combatants, fighting on behalf of Shia-sectarian Islamist parties. The vaunted efforts to train Iraqi security forces have merely trained better death squads. The Americans continue to imprison thousands of Iraqis, and kill many others. Meanwhile, humanitarian organizations that would normally demand that the United States comply with international law and hand over imprisoned Iraqis to the “sovereign” Iraqi government are not doing so, knowing that their treatment at the hands of the government would be far worse than anything they would endure while in American captivity. The occupation is not benign. It is profoundly painful, humiliating, and lethal.

The likes of John McCain, Robert Kagan, and Cornerites crow in triumph that “the surge is working” but rarely do look beyond Baghdad security. The fact is, improvements in security have led to no significant improvements in the workings of the Iraqi government, which was the original goal of the surge. By that benchmark, the surge has not worked at all. Worse, it still remains the case that most of Iraq’s professional class no longer lives in Iraq. Iraq has neither doctors to heal the sick nor engineers to rebuild the roads or turn on the electricity. On that note, Angelina Jolie’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post (Kathryn Jean Lopez’s sloppy triumphalism linked above notwithstanding) is quite revealing. Iraq’s refugee and humanitarian crisis might be addressed with the improved security in Baghdad, she says. But the United Nations officials she quotes are wisely circumspect, their goals minimized as “attempts to scale up” rather than to accomplish anything: “U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs.” If nothing is done, Jolie leaves unsaid, lives and treasure will continue to be squandered.