From yesterday’s NYT:

Three months after the start of the Baghdad security plan that has added thousands of American and Iraqi troops to the capital, they control fewer than one-third of the city?s neighborhoods, far short of the initial goal for the operation, according to some commanders and an internal military assessment.

We are basically seeing small, localized, transient gains that evaporate as soon as US troops hand neighborhoods back to Iraqi control. In other words, the “surge” isn’t working. Not well enough to matter.

I fully expect that we will have a presence similar to our presence in South Korea, for a similar time frame, but with far higher US casualties. Bush tied an anchor to this nation’s leg and jumped into the deep end of the pool. In the final analysis, this might end up being one of the greatest foreign policy blunders in US history.

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  • Not might Brian. Has been…

  • But the comparison to Korea or Germany or Japan is ridiculous.

    Just check out this U.S. Occupation Assistance report that compares the assistance given after WWII to that in Iraq. It says:

    Total U.S. assistance to Iraq thus far is roughly equivalent to total assistance (adjusted for inflation) provided to Germany ? and almost double that provided to Japan ? from 1946-1952.

    And that was published over a year ago.

  • Right. What I meant with the Korea comparison is that we’ll have a substantial sustained troop presence in what amounts to – at the very least – a hostile territory for 50+ years.

    More realistically, we are probably looking at 10s of thousands of troops in-country for decades, with ongoing terror attacks for a long time. At least in Korea the conflict was contained to icy glares across the border after the cease-fire.

    I agree, the amount of money we are spending is insane. And if we stick around for “reconstruction”, the effort will dwarf post-WWII efforts in duration and cost. This has been a disaster on a gigantic scale. And Congress is unwilling to force Bush to the mat over it.

  • You are correct- there isn’t much hope of us getting out of there any time soon.

    But I still find the Korea (or Japan or Germany) comparison hard to accept.

    It does work a little better if you assume that we are going to split Iraq into multiple regions – which may very well be the administration’s plan once they give up on the whole surge thing.

    But even that’s tough to believe because Iraq is nothing like Korea or Germany who were divided into multiple sections by two opposing occupiers (the soviets and the US/west) not by the cultural or religious differences of their citizens.

    At least in Korea, we could and can rationalize having our troops there to protect the South Koreans (and ourselves) from the evil Soviet communists.

    The best answer so far seems to be from Joe Biden, who suggests taking a path in Iraq similar to the one taken in Bosnia:

    “A decade ago, Bosnia was torn apart by ethnic cleansing and facing its demise as a single country. After much hesitation, the United States stepped in decisively with the Dayton Accords, which kept the country whole by, paradoxically, dividing it into ethnic federations, even allowing Muslims, Croats and Serbs to retain separate armies. With the help of American and other forces, Bosnians have lived a decade in relative peace and are now slowly strengthening their common central government, including disbanding those separate armies last year.

    “Now the Bush administration, despite its profound strategic misjudgments in Iraq, has a similar opportunity. To seize it, however, America must get beyond the present false choice between ‘staying the course’ and ‘bringing the troops home now’ and choose a third way that would wind down our military presence responsibly while preventing chaos and preserving our key security goals….”

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