Setting the Record Straight

July 16, 2008

Surge, or InSURGEncy Shift?

Winning, or Moving the Game?

     Ever get the feeling the famous “surge” of troops in Iraq actually is no more than a change of venue for inSURGEncy?
     For months now, we have been hearing about how successful the “surge” of troops to Iraq has been. It sounds like a grandiose plan  en- compassing all of Iraq, but as applied by the Bush administration at the beginning of 2007, the surge of troops never was intended to do more than secure only Baghdad and the province that encompasses it.
     The figures are not dramatic, but check them out anyhow. Between January, 2007, when the Iraq surge began, and mid-2008, 1,117 U.S. lives have been lost in Iraq. During the previous 18 months, 1,258 U.S. lives were lost, meaning the “surge” has resulted in about an 11 percent decrease in U.S. fatalities.
     By contrast, during the same 18-month period in Afghanistan, 198 Americans died, compared with 136 during the previous 18-month per- iod, or about a 45 percent increase.
     Of those latest deaths, 28 occurred this past June alone, the highest U.S. fatality count since the United States attacked Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 with the backing of most of the rest of the world.
     The U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan in mid-2008 was 32,000, the largest number since that post-9/11 attack.
     One has to wonder, if we had stayed committed to Afghanistan and seeking Osama bin Laden, and had committed just half the 160,000 troops we now have in Iraq (80,000, more than tripling the troops we have in Afghanistan now), what the situation would be like today in Afghani- stan. And what the fate of Bin Laden might have been.
     Could we still pull out of Iraq and shift our full attention to Afghani- stan and save face? Even Nouri Kamal al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, wants a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from his country.
     In the spring of 1975, the United States suffered the most ignomin- ious defeat in its 200-year history. The scene is forever etched in history books and the memories of Americans over 50, one of helicopters landing on the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon to extract the last of the Americans and/or their Vietnamese supporters, leaving behind thousands of other Vietnamese to their fate.
     The United States not only offered no formal surrender, it never has acknowledged a surrender, let alone a defeat. More than 58,000 Americans died in that stupid war, and to what end?
     Today, it is just Vietnam; there is no distinction between north and south. In 1975, the communists of Hanoi took over the south and made one country that now is a struggling, but thriving nation. Vietnam, much as China has, embraced a form of parental capitalism that enjoys a great deal of investments from its former enemy, the United States, both the private and government funds.
     The great specter our government had before the fall was of Vietnam as the first of a series of Communist dominoes falling across South Asia. Somehow, the dominoes never fell and the great crisis of a communist takeover of all of Vietnam never became a threat to anyone. And where is the shame the United States has carried since? It only lies within, and is a fading one at that—we still have our macho image as the world’s bully.
     Fast-forward now to Iraq. If our intentions there are as the Bush administration presents them in its inimitable garbled fashion (as an effort toward democratization even though it favors undemocratic means to achieve its goal), and are not an effort to control the country’s oil riches, then what is our problem in extracting our troops.
     Yes, this is overly simplistic and likely would leave that area of the world in an all-out war from within and without. But consider it as a starting point: leave Iraq, concentrate on Afghanistan and try to make sure the ensuing civil wars in Iraq do not spread beyond its borders.
     If Vietnam and its 58,000-plus U.S. fatalities is any indication, perhaps we should send a fleet of helicopters to that vast new U.S. embassy in Baghdad now, extract the Americans and leave Iraq to determine its own fate, and probably thrive on its own, while we concentrate on finishing the job we began in Afghanistan post 9/11.

(from www.straightrecord.com)

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