There are two primary reasons why the success of the “surge” is a myth. First, to accept McCain’s assertions, one must accept the overall framework of the argument, which pits levels of violence in Iraq circa 2006 with the levels of violence in Iraq today. This, of course, is a false and misleading benchmark upon which to judge success in Iraq. The Iraq war must be evaluated in a continuum which extends back to the decision to invade Iraq in the first place. While one can make the claim that Iraq today is better off than it was in 2006-2007, there is no way one can responsibly claim that Iraq today, post-“surge,” is a better place than when the United States invaded in March 2003, especially when the issues of violence and instability are considered. If McCain wants to tout the “surge” as a great policy success, then he should be compelled to do so using a benchmark that is reflective of the totality of Iraq, which means comparing prewar Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s leadership with the postwar Iraq of the present. Of course, if this comparison is drawn, McCain and the war he has steadfastly supported will still be found sadly lacking.
The second reason the “surge” is a myth is the fact that the totality of its “success” is derived from illusion, not reality. If one examines the sources of violence which led to the large numbers of American and Iraqi dead in 2006-2007, one will quickly see that the “surge” has treated the symptom and not the disease. The recent turning over of the security of Anbar province from the United States to the Iraqi government has been singled out as a clear indicator that the “surge” is working. However, the “success” of the “surge” in that volatile region is drawn less from any tendency on the part of the Sunni tribes to develop sympathetic links with the Shiite government in Baghdad than it is from the outright bribes of the United States to the tribal leaders in the form of money, weapons and assurances that the Sunni would be given a meaningful voice in the running of Iraq. With the United States now removed as the peacekeeper in Anbar province, it is only a question of time before the tenuous truce that exists between Sunni and Shiite in western Iraq collapses. And, if and when it does, rest assured that the forces of al-Qaida in Iraq, suppressed but not defeated, will once again make their presence known. The same can be said about the situation concerning Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. The lack of heavy fighting does not directly translate into a problem solved. The underlying problems of post-Saddam Iraq remain unresolved, and the reality is that what passes for “success” is nothing more than a flimsy cover for a failed policy.
That John McCain needed Hockey-Mom-Turned-Soldier-Mom Sarah Palin to help sell this flawed concept to a skeptical Republican base only underscores the fragility of the argument. Palin’s relentless linkage of “victory” in Iraq through the “surge” and her status as the mother of an active-duty service member only succeeds in generating more inane cheering from a crowd that knows and understands war as little more than entertainment, something they see in a movie or a video game as opposed to feeling it, hearing it, tasting it and smelling it. McCain of all people should be embarrassed when his erstwhile supporters taunt the reality of war with their asinine, childish and demeaning chants. Let me be clear concerning Palin and her son: I salute him for volunteering to serve his nation in these difficult and dangerous times. I share with Sarah Palin the pride that comes from knowing that some of today’s youth do, in fact, give a damn enough to serve. But I will never understand or comprehend how a mother can so gleefully support a war void of justification. I have often said Iraq was never a cause worthy of the sacrifice of American life. I wonder just how willing Sarah Palin actually is to send her son to the altar of this most unworthy of causes, and question her fitness to be in line for the presidency if she is, in fact, as enthusiastic as she appears. Self-described “war hater” John McCain would do well to rein in the immature enthusiasm of his over-eager Hockey Mom. War isn’t a game.
The pro-war insanity of the Republican National Convention, rather than reinforcing my support of Barack Obama, raised my concerns about the Democrat. Like many, I have questioned the credentials of this clearly intelligent man. Untested in any real way, save the artificial crucible of American politics, void of any life experience truly worthy of the post of most powerful man in the world, Obama has positioned himself to become the next president of the United States. His message of hope rings just a little too “true,” perhaps just a bit too good to be the genuine article. While I cringe at McCain speaking about the “Russian threat,” I wince when the same words come rushing out of the side of Obama’s mouth, as if he is afraid to chew on the reality of what he is saying. “All Americans are Georgians,” McCain said following the recent spate of fighting in the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia, although in reality most Americans couldn’t point Georgia out on a map, let alone be willing to send their sons and daughters off to fight and die there. But at least McCain himself believes in the importance of keeping the budding democracy in that tiny Caucasian republic viable. Obama’s eyes are alive when he speaks of critical domestic issues but appear glazed and lifeless when he is compelled by circumstance to address matters which may very well propel America and Russia into a new period of Cold War, or worse. America had its “3 a.m. wakeup call” in the first week of August, and Barack Obama was found seriously wanting.