The insurgent attacks did not happen "in spite of" the surge. Insurgents attacked in Basrah where foreign military influence is fanning the flames of discontent over the lack of essential services. People in Basrah are upset because they don't have access to clean water, sewage, trash removal, or fuel for cooking and transportation. They know who to blame, but they don't know who to turn to to fix the problems. They lashed out, Maliki's government moved to squelch it, and the Coalition stayed largely on the sidelines. OK, we provided targets. And maybe we helped a little, if you count helicopter gunships and Predator UAVs. But essentially, this was an internal Iraqi affair.
I wish you could have heard General Petraeus' steady response as the situation unfolded: very deliberate, yet calming. It was quite dramatic here, and a lesser leader might have over-reacted. I anticipate that some members of our own society will use this spate of violence to claim the surge failed and call for our immediate withdrawal. That would be a terrible decision based on a tragic misreading of what just happened.
The General can expect to be grilled by Congress and the press over this, but the violence reflects on Iraqi politics and ineffective provincial government, not on the surge or the value of our continued presence here.
02 April 2008
Update From Over There
Since the legacy media spin will often dominate, it's importatn to get the non-CNN version: