When In Doubt, Surge

The beauty of being a pro-war supporter is never feeling the need to admit failure in regard to the invasion of Iraq. And the prototype for their credulity is George Bush himself. The New Way Forward that he revealed to a war-weary public involves 21,500 extra troops and a $1 billion aid package for Iraq.

Under the new plan, the US will increase the number of troops in Iraq, which currently stands at 132,000, by 21,500. The majority of the new force will be stationed in Baghdad and embedded with Iraqi units while some 4,000 marines will be sent to western Anbar province to fight Sunni insurgents.

The plan is the third attempt to stabilise the Baghdad area, the scene of 80% of sectarian violence in Iraq. Mr Bush said the new strategy would work where other plans had failed because of the increased force levels. “This time, we will have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared,” he said.

The new troops and aid money is Bush’s last-last-last ditch attempt to save American éclat from certain defeat. This is no more than an expensive round of play-acting to ensure Bush looks ascendant whilst he plays out the rest of his presidential tenure. The stabilisation of the ‘Baghdad area’ mentioned above most definitely means tackling Moqtada al-Sadr and his 100,000 strong al-Mahdi army. And an attack on the Shia militia of Baghdad could be the last nail in the coffin of the US prosecution of Iraq.

Here is Patrick Cockburn on Moqtada:

If the US Army, along with Kurdish brigades of the Iraqi army, do assault Sadr City, they are unlikely to win a clean victory. The rest of Shia Iraq is likely to explode. A confrontation will convince many Shia that the US never intends to let them rule Iraq despite their success in the elections. The US is already at war with the five million-strong Sunni community and is now fast alienating the Shia. For the first time this year, polls showed that a majority of Shia approve of armed attacks on US-led forces.

An offensive against Sadr’s Mehdi Army will be portrayed as an attempt to eliminate militias. But it is, in reality, an attack on one particular militia, because it is anti-American. The Kurdish brigades in the Iraqi army take their orders from the Kurdish leaders and not from Maliki. The US also has good relations with the other Shia militia, the Badr Organisation, which is the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

But even the Shi’i majority Baghdad government, headed by the quisling Nuri Kamal al-Maliki can’t bring itself to affect support for the wreckage of the US occupation any more.

The Shiites rose to power for the first time in Iraq’s history on the back of the American invasion, and they were amenable to American strategies in the early years. But as the vicious attacks by Sunni militants increased, the government became impatient with what it called Washington’s cautious military action and its increased scrutiny of Shiite militias.

“You can’t solve the problem by adding more troops,” said Redha Jawad Tahi, a Shiite member of Parliament. “The security should be in the hands of the Iraqis. The U.S. should be in a supporting role.”

Does the Bush administration actually eat it’s own dogfood? Do they believe that taking on the al-Sadr militia is going to turn Shi’a-majority Iraq their way? What will the effect be on the delicate Shi’a-Kurd alliance that was so important at the start of the invasion? And how will making a martyr of Moqtada possibly strengthen Bush’s position when Shi’a liturgy is based on the sanctity of martydom?

These questions and more will bubble up in the coming months but by then neither Mr Bush nor Mr Blair will be in a position to care. Because by that time, they’ll be enjoying highly paid executive posts in Bechtel and wowing the crowds (for large sums of money) in the American university lecture circuit.

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