Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Pushing the Surge

In anticipation of U.S. Gen. David Petraeus' final report on Iraq, supporters of the troop surge have been busily trying to set...

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In anticipation of U.S. Gen. David Petraeus’ final report on Iraq, supporters of the troop surge have been busily trying to set the stage for the report that they believe will refute their opponents. But the media blitz in Washington is unfolding under the backdrop of dwindling domestic and international support for the ongoing U.S. presence in Iraq.

In a worldwide poll released September 7 and conducted by the BBC World Service, GlobeScan, and the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), 67% of international respondents and 61% of U.S. citizens think the United States should withdraw within a year.

Progress in the troop surge has been slow, and Petraeus’ July interim report found mixed results, with only 6 of 18 congressional benchmarks for success in Iraq being met.

Last Thursday, the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—which has generally supported the George W. Bush administration’s decisions in Iraq—put on a marathon 3.5 hour series of panel discussions to promote AEI resident scholar Frederick Kagan‘s recent report, "No Middle Way: The Challenge of Exit Strategies From Iraq."

Kagan challenges another recent report by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which proposes a phased withdrawal from Iraq and a shift from the current U.S. role of performing security operations to an advisory and support role for the Iraqi police and military.

Kagan believes that the CNAS report, "like most middle-way strategies, mistakes the conditions that would make such a transition successful: when basic security has been established. Instead, it suggests than an immediate transition to an advisory role—driven by hopes for bipartisanship in Washington but irrespective of the security situation in Iraq—would allow the United States to withdraw most of its combat forces without compromising its interests."

"That conclusion is false," writes Kagan.

The "No Middle Way" kickoff included surge heavyweights such as Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon, retired U.S. Army Gen. Jack Keane, and AEI’s Danielle Pletka and Gary Schmitt. "Middle Way" proponents, however, did get their say, with James N. Miller, the coauthor of the CNAS report, titled "Phased Transition: A Responsible Way Forward and Out of Iraq," defending his work in one of the two panel discussions.

The lead-up to the Petraeus report—which, the Los Angeles Times reported, "would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government"—has fanned the flames of debate over whether the surge is actually having its desired effect.

All the speakers at the AEI event, minus Miller, painted a positive image of post-surge Iraq, citing a decrease in sectarian violence and the impossibility of starting an immediate phased withdrawal based on timelines instead of improvements on the ground, both political and security related, which, they claim, would only lead to failure in Iraq.

Meanwhile, public support for the U.S. military presence in Iraq is continuously dwindling. Proponents of the surge point to statistics showing decreases in sectarian bloodshed, but serious questions have been raised about the validity of this data.

Petraeus, in his upcoming report, is expected to cite a 75% decrease in sectarian attacks and a 17% decline in civilian casualties from December 2006 to August 2007.

However, an Associated Press (AP) report last week said that 1,809 civilian deaths occurred in August, making it the highest monthly casualty count of 2007, with 27,564 civilians killed since the AP began its data collection in April 2005.

Furthermore, a General Accountability Office (GAO) report—criticized at the AEI event—found that the "average number of daily attacks against civilians have remained unchanged from February to July 2007."

Kagan, Keane, and O’Hanlon discount such dire statistics as not being representative of the Iraq they have witnessed during week-long tours of the country.

Graham summed up the situation as one in which the United States either continues with the surge and emerges victorious, or chooses a middle ground and faces certain defeat.

"My last visit convinced me more than anything else that the biggest benefit from the surge is to take the men and women on the frontlines and change their attitudes about their mission," said Graham. "They’ve gone from riding around waiting to be shot to feel like they’re kicking their ass. God bless," Graham concluded.

But troop morale is likely far from being "sky high" or "through the roof," as Graham claimed in his remarks last Thursday. According to a report in the August 25 Los Angeles Times: "The latest in a series of mental health surveys of troops in Iraq, released in May, says 45% of the 1,320 soldiers interviewed ranked morale in their unit as low or very low. Seven percent ranked it high or very high."

Eli Clifton writes for the Inter Press Service and is a contributor to Right Web (https://rightweb.irc-online.org/).

Citations

Eli Clifton, "Pushing the Surge," Right Web Analysis (Somerville, MA: International Relations Center, September 12, 2007).

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Right Web readers will be familiar with Mr. Fleitz, the former CIA officer who once threatened to take “legal action” against Right Web for publicizing reports of controversies he was associated with in the George W. Bush administration. Fleitz recently left his job at the conspiracy-mongering Center for Security Policy to become chief of staff to John Bolton at the National Security Council.


Norm Coleman is chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota known for his hawkish views on foreign policy.


Billionaire hedge fund mogul Paul Singer is known for his predatory business practices and support for neoconservative causes.


Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is a passionate supporter of Trump’s foreign policy.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest “pro-Israel” advocacy group in the United States, is known for its zealous Christian Zionism and its growing influence in the Republican Party.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share