The Surge “Success”

Triumph of Hope Over Experience

In recent months, supporters of the mission in Iraq have been in high spirits.  They insist that the “Surge”—the strategy of deploying an additional 30,000 U.S. troops, which President Bush announced in December 2007—has turned around the dire security situation.  The Bush administration, they believe, has finally adopted the right approach to Iraq.

War proponents do have some evidence to back up their assertion–at least in the narrow military sense.  There is no doubt that the overall security environment in Iraq has improved.  Both the number of insurgent attacks and the number of overall fatalities (Iraqi as well as American) declined sharply during the last five months of 2007, and, despite a slight uptick in January and February, they remain about 60-percent below the levels of 2006 and the first half of 2007.  Violence in Iraq is no longer the lead story on the network evening news programs on most days.  Indeed, the media seem to have grown a bit jaded with the Iraq war now that spectacular car-bomb explosions in Baghdad and other major cities are less frequent occurrences.

Advocates of the war should be a bit more cautious about proclaiming victory, however.  For one thing, they have prematurely proclaimed victory on many occasions before.  President Bush’s infamous speech under the “Mission Accomplished” banner on the USS Lincoln...

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