Yet in the long run it is hard to see how the surge succeeds. We are four years into this war, and the bloodletting in Baghdad is rising. Our presence has never been more resented. In America, the war has already been lost. Even Bush admits that staying the course means "slow failure." And a rapid withdrawal, as urged by the Baker-Hamilton commission, means "expedited failure."
Even should the surge succeed for a time, it may only push the inevitable into another year.
And consider what it is we are asking Maliki to do.
We want him to use Sunni and Kurdish brigades of the Iraqi Army, in concert with the U.S. Army, to smash the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr, the most popular Shia leader in the country and the principal political support of Maliki. We are asking Maliki to turn on his ruthless Shia patron and bet his future on an America whose people want all U.S. troops home, the earlier the better.
For Maliki to implement fully the U.S. conditions would make him a mortal enemy of Moqtada and millions of Shia, and possibly result in his assassination. Whatever legacy Bush faces, he is not staring down a gun barrel at that.
The truth: There is only one U.S. policy guaranteed to work if we are resolved to keep Iraq in the U.S. camp. That is to send an army of 500,000 to 750,000 U.S. troops into Iraq for an indefinite period, to pacify Baghdad, retake and hold Anbar and secure the borders against jihadis. Even that kind of commitment, beyond the present capacity of the U.S. Army and Marines, would not secure America's position, once the inevitable withdrawal began.
It is over. What we need to face now are the consequence of the folly of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice in launching this unnecessary and unprovoked war, the folly of the neocon snake oil salesmen who bamboozled the media into believing in this insane crusade to bring democracy to Baghdad in the belly of Bradley fighting vehicles and the folly of the Democratic establishment in handing Bush a blank check for war out of political fear of being called unpatriotic.
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