I agree with Sen Levin, who said “that the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq has failed because it hasn’t achieved its primary goal of sparking political reconciliation among that country’s rival sectarian groups.”
The whole point of the surge was to provide “breathing room” for the political process to work. That hasn’t worked.
And the point about the violence being down misses the point for me. When I was in the desert, from September to January, I saw the daily (classified) e-mails that summarized the attacks, KIAs (killed in action), WIAs (wounded in action), NBD (non-battle deaths), NBIs (non-battle injuries) for U.S. Forces in Iraq. Those e-mails also gave the numbers of Coalition Forces deaths and injuries, Iraqi Forces deaths and injuries and detainees. As has been reported in the media, I’m sure that the number of KIAs for US forces was down in that period as compared to the previous year. But, even those 1s and 2s were quite sobering to read every day. It was also striking the number of WIAs, NBDs and NBIs that came through, which numbers just don’t get reported in the media (not to mention the sheer number of deaths all of the numbers in those daily e-mails represented among all the forces).
Overall, I was struck by the difference between what I read in the media about how the violence was down and, therefore, the surge was working versus what I read on the internal military reports of deaths and injuries. Bottom line for me – when I consider the stress on the forces (as covered in a previous post) and the numbers of deaths and injuries I saw – the surge was a failure.