Groucho Marx had a signature greeting song, always good for a laugh: “Hello I Must Be Going:”
Hello, I must be going
I cannot stay
I came to say
I must be going
I’m glad I came
But just the same
I must be going…
In relation to the surge, Congress is Groucho Marx, although not nearly as funny. That surge we’ve heard so much about, headed by counter-insurgency expert General Petraeus—originally held in such high bipartisan esteem—is only about a week or so into full deployment.
But of course it’s failed. Or, rather, it will fail. Inevitably, indubitably.
Because the pundits and the members of Congress know much more about such things than General Petraeus. No need to wait around to see what actually happens by the short-sighted September deadline. When last I checked it’s only late June right now, but what more could possibly happen in a couple of months? Why bother? We all know the outcome, don’t we?
The MSM made much of Senator Richard Lugar’s speech on the subject (and please actually read his words rather than the MSM reports of what he said) since it represented a defection from the Bush line by a prominent Republican. The gist of Lugar’s speech seemed to be the following: the Iraqis are no good, our military is tired, and neither the American people nor Congress has the patience and will to even try anymore, so let’s leave before we even discover the results of the surge.
Senator Lugar’s rationale for suggesting abandonment of the surge now rather than waiting any longer is predicated on the fact that we are more likely to get truly bipartisan cooperative policy going if we start sooner rather than waiting to accomplish it during a contentious election year.
Sorry, Senator, you may not have noticed, but it’s already rather late for that. Actually, it’s been too late since the election of 2006. In fact, it was probably too late even earlier. As you yourself noted in the first few paragraphs of your speech [emphasis mine]:
The prospects that the current “surge” strategy will succeed in the way originally envisioned by the President are very limited within the short period framed by our own domestic political debate. And the strident, polarized nature of that debate increases the risk that our involvement in Iraq will end in a poorly planned withdrawal that undercuts our vital interests in the Middle East….The current debate on Iraq in Washington has not been conducive to a thoughtful revision of our Iraq policy.
Bingo, Senator Lugar. And that includes you.
Here’s an outline of the way the surge is supposed to work, if successful. You’ll note that its main thrust is not expected to occur until this summer—that’s actually where that September timeline for a report on the undertaking originated.
In fact, the surge is an example of what Lugar is asking for, “a thoughtful revision of our Iraq policy,” drawn up by a general who is the country’s expert in the field, newly appointed and approved (the latter unanimously, I might add) for the very purpose of implementing it after the architect of the old policy, Secretary Rumsfeld, was ousted subsequent to last year’s election.
Oh, details, details. And, as J.D. Johannes points out in this article, the four goals Senator Lugar has outlined for our policy in Iraq and the greater Middle East:
…are being advanced, some of them dramatically, by the surge strategy of Gen. David Petraeus — the very strategy that Sen. Lugar would scrap in favor of “downsizing and redeployment.”
Johannes has recently returned from three months in Iraq, and his article offers a strong critique of Lugar’s speech. Johannes notes that the surge has already accomplished important things, even prior to its being at full strength:
The principal accomplishment of the surge to date is solidifying the “Anbar Awakening,” the significance of which has been under-reported by the media and ill-understood by the public. If any piece of territory in Iraq qualified as a “terrorist safe haven,” it was bloody Anbar. This province of little over 1 million people — 4.5 percent of Iraq’s population—has accounted for 34.6 percent of U.S. casualties….The virtual extinction of the insurgency in the province — a victory that I was privileged to witness first-hand — represented not some momentary quirk of tribal alliances, but a diligent application of the revised tactics that coalition forces have implemented under skilled, battle-proven officers and Gen. Petraeus.
It’s not hard to predict that whatever gains may occur this summer as a result of Petraeus and his “skilled, battle-proven” officers and troops will likewise by “under-reported by the media and ill-understood by the public.”
And that’s because the fix is in, and the song is being sung: Hello, we must be going….