Thursday, February 09, 2006

When Wrong Is Right

Last May - over 8 months ago - Vice President Dick Cheney stated, with a straight face, that the insurgency in Iraq was in its "last throes" - a claim that set off a flurry of chatter in the commentariat. While some senior military officials tried to dampen the delusional spin put forth by Cheney, well-disciplined Bush administration officials such as Stephen Hadley echoed Cheney's seemingly unfounded sanguinity.

Many in the blogosphere were quick to rush to the defense of Cheney. Wretchard at Belmont Club plunged headlong into the breach with an interesting twist on the notion of last throes that drew the ire of Greg Djerejian here, and then reacting to a subsequent post here. Others were sucked into the vortex as well, from the more thoughtful to the inane. Regarding the latter, I particularly enjoyed this line of argumentation:

A successful insurgency must have a significant base of popular support. The insurgency in Iraq is increasingly being recognized for what it is - a group of foreign jihadi thugs who want to subjugate the new and free Iraq. [emphasis added]
On the contrary, as Anthony Cordesman and others have taken pains to point out, the Iraqi insurgencies are overwhelmingly comprised of Iraqis. Even the foreign jihadi elements rely heavily on Iraqi recruits as illustrated by the membership rolls of Zarqawi's gangs themselves which are taking on an increasingly Iraqi character. While the insurgencies enjoy very little to no support in the Kurdish and Shiite areas, they are sufficiently popular in Sunni areas to satisfy this prerequisite. Furthermore, this splintered popularity tells of an underlying fragmentation of Iraqi society that could presage a full-blown civil war which would be far more destructive than the current scourge of the insurgencies.

It should also be noted that certain Shiite elements, such as Muqtada al-Sadr's faction with its Mehdi Army, could once again join the ranks of the insurgencies if sufficiently provoked - through US strikes against either Syria or Iran or as a result of the continued and/or escalated skirmishes between US forces and al-Sadr's militia that have begun to percolate once again.

But I digress somewhat. So, here's some recent observations from the US military on how those "last throes" are playing out some 8-plus months after that peculiar dynamic was astutely observed by our Vice President:

The U.S. military predicted [in mid-January] that violence would increase around Iraq as final results from last month's elections are released and political groups forge ahead with forming a new government.

Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition force, said a series of "horrific attacks" that killed at least 500 people since the Dec. 15 elections were an indication that insurgents were trying to take the opportunity of the transition to a new government to destabilize the democratic process.

"As democracy advances in the form of election results and government formation, and as the military pressure continues, and the pressure generated by political progress increases, we expect more violence across Iraq," he said at a news briefing.
I must admit, I'm a bit confused. I thought the elections and formation of a new government were going to quell violence, not give rise to increased levels of it. I also figured that an insurgency that was essentially defeated 8 months ago, with non-existent popular support, would be petering out now - not ramping up activities or maintaining the rate of attacks as reported today in declassified Pentagon reports.

Then again, this is an all too familiar cycle of optimism confronting a less forgiving reality. For anyone paying attention, the insurgency was also supposed to lose steam after the deaths of Uday and Qusay. Then after the capture of Saddam. Then after the turning over of limited sovereignty to the Interim Governing Council. Then after the first limited elections. Then after the constitution was drafted. Then after the constitution was ratified. Then after these most recent December elections. Next up: the formation of the Iraqi government and the amendment of the constitution.

But now we're being warned that these elections and the subsequent cabinet forming will actually cause a spike in violence?

I'm dizzy. But as Robert Blackwill once opined, all those who doubted that the above-listed events would play out as predicted by the Bush administration were simply wrong. And would likely continue being wrong about their persistent pessimism regarding imminent turning points. Unfortunately, in the up-is down world of Iraq-war spin - that's actually bad news. Got it? Me neither.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?