Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Surge Working?

"The number of American troops and Iraqi civilians killed in the war fell in September to levels not seen in more than a year. The U.S. military said the lower count was at least partly a result of new strategies and 30,000 additional U.S. forces deployed this year."

Reihan Salam asks if conservative commentators are correct that the surge is working. First one must ask what the purpose of the surge was? It was to provide security and stability (breathing room if you will) for an Iraqi political reconciliation to work. I see no evidence of such a reconciliation occurring. I think what the surge has allowed is for a less violent partitioning of Iraq. If we are to stay in Iraq policy makers must disabuse themselves of the notion of "Iraq". Sens. Brownback and Biden are the only ones thus far to present this concept. Brownback was ridiculed for it and Biden has not gained any real political support from it either, though it has not been harmful as the Democratic caucus is decidedly more sane these days.

That Iraq the Nation is dissolving should not surprise us. Peaceful multi ethnic/religious states are not the norm. After WWI when the great empires dissolved Europe experienced tremendous internal migration, Turks being booted out of Greece and vice versa, and the formation of States along ethnic lines proceeded in full force. This process has trickled into this century as the Czechs and Slovaks amicably split when the Wall came down and as the UN/NATO continues to oversee the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The extent to which a nation has boasted a multi-ethnic/religious population it has often used nationalism as a substitute for ethnicity (with a good deal of authoritarianism mixed in: Tito in Yugoslavia, Saddam in Iraq, to a lessor extent Ataturk in Turkey). The Iraqi national identity was not, and is not a sufficient substitute.

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