Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason T. Bailey, U.S. Air Force (from here)Much as I really don't want to link to Bob Woodward, he reminds us that "the surge" is not what this apparently benighted US electorate thinks it is.
What has made some headway in quelling, relatively, the violence in Iraq = US assassination squads + the Anbar Awakening + Moqtada al-Sadr's suspension of Mahdi Army operations + extra security stations (basically, "the surge").
But... in June of this year, the GAO released its report on Iraq (.pdf), concluding that, as Jim Johnson summarizes it:
(1) Despite some progress, in Iraq, "the security environment remains volatile and dangerous."The things the surge was supposed to do haven't yet been done, unless we redefine the goals of the surge after the fact, and much of the drop in violence is due to happy accidents beyond US control.
(2) The Iraqis remain light years away from being able to assume responsibility for their own security.
(3) Progress on political and constitutional matters in Iraq is, politely, lacking.
(4) The Iraqis are not coming close to funding the social and physical reconstruction of their country.
The McCain campaign says that his support of the surge shows how prescient McCain is on foreign policy issues and how much, tiresomely, he is a "maverick" for bucking conventional wisdom. The surge just is McCain's big moment of supposed foreign policy expertise. But it was basically a gamble which turned out better because of some completely unforeseen things combined with a re-spinning of "the surge." It would be a very good thing (please) for some big media journalist with some level of knowledge of Iraq to ask McCain more detailed questions about the nature of the surge, its achievements, and its longer-term goals. The question should also be asked of Obama.