You Call This a Victory?
Matthew Yglesias takes a break from the Iowa caucus madness to point out, quite rightly, that the Surge has been an unambiguous failure.
The theory behind the surge was clear. Some people said more troops would bring more security to Iraq. Critics of that idea noted that sending more troops would be logistically unsustainable. Surge theorists posited that a temporary increase in force levels would create a temporary increase in security that would open window of opportunity for political reconciliation that would allow for a permanent increase in security. So the surge was implemented. As of September, the surge had failed to generate the political reconciliation that would allow for a permanent increase in security. Surge supporters told skeptics we had to give it more time. Three months later, the surge has still failed to generate the political reconciliation that would allow for a permanent increase in security.
Now we’re near the point of de-surging — the window is closing rapidly and nobody thinks the opportunity will be seized. And yet surge fans are declaring victory. It’s doesn’t make sense. The surge’s architects laid out admirably clear goals for it. Laid them out and unambiguously failed to meet them.
No arguments here. Unless, of course, you’re among those who think that the primary goal of the Iraq War after about 2004 was not democracy in Iraq, but rather a permanent American military presence. If you have that as a goal, then it’s clear that the Surge has been an unambiguous success, because now those folks have learned that if you can just keep American casualties low enough, then Congress will give up on trying bring the troops home even though a majority of the public wants them to.