Anbar — And the Credit Goes To?

Sidney Blumenthal makes some telling points in Salon about the so-called progress in Anbar, on which the credibility of the “success” of the troop surge depends. You might want to remember these points this Thanksgiving, when you normally give thanks that you only see some certain relative only once a year — especially because such relative is likely to give you the option either to use these points or lose face before his or her tirade:

Sept. 13, 2007 | Two years ago the Sunni sheiks leading the insurgency in Iraq’s Anbar province approached the United States, offering to end the violence in exchange for a timetable establishing that U.S. forces would withdraw from the country, a senior official at the highest level of the British government told me. Without some sort of negotiated deal that the Sunni leaders could brandish, they explained, they would not have the essential political justification for quelling the conflict. The British believed that the Sunni offer was being made in good faith and urged that it be accepted. But according to the senior British source, President Bush rejected it out of hand, still certain that he could achieve a military victory. He saw any agreement with the Sunnis as tantamount to defeat, the British official said. And yet, even as the Sunnis were rebuffed, Bush continued to invest trust in the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government to forge a political conciliation.

Hmmm… and wasn’t it about two years ago we first heard about the Salvador Option? Oh yeah, and two years ago the Sunnis were the bad guys and the Shiites were the good guys. Sort of. “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia,” right? Blumenthal continues:

Now, Thursday night, in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office, President Bush will announce the withdrawal of 30,000 troops from Iraq by July 2008, leaving the U.S. force at the level it was before the “surge,” through the presidential election year. He will claim that he is able to withdraw these troops because of the success of his plan, as proved by the result of the turning of Sunni tribes in Anbar province against al-Qaida in Iraq.

As Gen. David Petraeus did in his congressional testimony, Bush will point to events in Anbar as the key evidence of the surge’s triumph. What he will not be discussing is how he discarded the earlier Sunni offer to negotiate and dismissed the advice of the British government as he pursued the chimera of “victory.” He will also carefully neglect to observe that the Sunni action against al-Qaida in Iraq began independently before the surge, that it was never foreseen as part of the surge, that the Sunnis politically are more estranged than ever from the Shiite-run government of Nouri al-Maliki, or that the U.S. arming of the Sunnis may be a perverse preparation for the next phase of the Iraqi sectarian civil war in the likely absence of political power sharing. Nor will Bush explain the contradiction between his withdrawal of these 30,000 troops and his doomsday scenarios that withdrawing U.S. forces will presage genocide on the scale of Cambodia.

And down we go, further and further into the rabbit hole.


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