Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ethnic Cleansing

The GAO report concludes that one of the 18 benchmarks set for measuring progress in Iraq-reduction in sectarian violence-has not been met. Military officials, and the Bush administration, beg to differ. But it seems completely irresponsible to me to argue that sectarian violence is down when ethnic cleansing appears to be running rampant:

From January to July, nearly 100,000 Iraqis fled their homes each month, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization. In its midyear review, the International Organization for Migration, a U.N. agency, also reported a spike in displacement, saying that 63 percent of cases it assessed involved a reported direct threat to life.

"The stability that was anticipated as a result of various security plans has not materialized, and as the violence continues in Iraq, so will the displacement," the agency said.

These numbers suggest that for the average citizen of Baghdad, where the military has focused most of its force and energy on providing security, the surge is completely irrelevant.

But, pay no attention, as once again the goalposts are shifting:

With the Democratic-led Congress poised to measure progress in Iraq by focusing on the central government’s failure to perform, President Bush is proposing a new gauge, by focusing on new American alliances with the tribes and local groups that Washington once feared would tear the country apart.

That shift in emphasis was implicit in Mr. Bush’s decision to bypass Baghdad on his eight-hour trip to Iraq, stopping instead in Anbar Province, once the heart of an anti-American Sunni insurgency.

For now...the White House is arguing that the ground-up relationships they are building in places like Anbar are more important than keeping a scorecard of legislation passed or stalled in Baghdad. Whether that argument is enough to keep a few wavering Republicans on board may determine whether Mr. Bush gets a bit more time to try his latest strategy.

You may recall that the point of the surge was to secure Baghdad first. So now we see a two-prong strategy on the part of the administration; argue that things really are going well in Baghdad while at the same time trying to draw attention to the situation in Anbar, which began to improve before the surge and independent of anything we'd done. And I use "improve" in the loosest sense, as in they're not killing Americans at the rate they once were. Nonetheless, arming the Sunnis and allying with them against Al Qaeda will in no way encourage the Shiites to adopt them into some sort of national reconciliation government. Even were we willing to "switch sides" so to speak and begin supporting the Sunnis against the Shiites, it's unlikely that they would accept anything less than domination over the government of Iraq. It's more likely we'd have a Shiite insurgency on our hands, as they fought to prevent us from enforcing Sunni rule over them again.

1 comment:

adam said...

C'mon, can we really trust a non-partisan, independent audit over the Pentagon?