When conservatives like columnist Clifford May suggest that those of us who opposed the surge now graciously concede that it’s working, I’ll go along -- if they’ll concede that the purpose of the surge was to buy President Bush time to get out of office without conceding the colossal failure of his mission.
But in the holiday spirit of light prevailing over darkness, I've been watching the lull in violence and hoping that the worst is truly behind us, that our troops will be home soon, and that America will once again bask in a kinder light of world opinion.
But I’m getting a familiar feeling. That old Bushian “Fool me once — you can't get fooled again" feeling.
The given reason for the surge was to support the given reasons for the invasion: To rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, to avenge the attacks of 9/11 – even though they had nothing to do with Iraq, and to create a beacon of democracy in the heart of the Arab world.
Saddam is gone, and that’s good, though his trial and subsequent hanging was hardly a display of democratic justice at its best, but then again, our country has slipped in that regard as well, so the bar has been lowered.
There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but now the country is flooded with American weapons of medium destruction. According to a new report prepared by the inspector general of the Department of Defense, more than $1 billion in military equipment supplied to Iraqi forces, including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, cannot be accounted for. On top of that, the Iraqi government has signed deals to buy $1.6 billion of arms from the United States, with another $1.8 billion in possible purchases set to happen before the end of this year. The surge is working?
As for avenging 9/11 and defeating Al-Qaida, well, wrong country, wrong Al-Qaida. The American occupation of Iraq has built solidarity among former enemies, and Osama bin Laden is probably taping his holiday video greeting at this moment. The surge is working?
The “beacon of democracy” part is still a stretch, but there’s no denying that violence is down in Baghdad and that some of the 2.1 million people who fled to Syria or Jordan since the start of the war are trickling back, although relief officials have suggested that it's due to Syria limiting visas and refugees running out of money.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, they are returning to a country now segregated along ethnic lines, where another 2 million people are internally displaced. They are returning to limited electrical and sanitary services in cities made up of walled enclaves with checkpoints secured by American soldiers – or teenaged guards toting AK-47’s. Says one Iraqi, “Iraq is a prison, and now I live in my own little prison.” The surge is working?
As for winning in Iraq, does anyone know what that means anymore? We’ve joined forces, or at least reached tacit agreements, with the various militias and religious leaders which last year were blowing us up, while becoming increasingly disenchanted with the government we sacrificed American blood and treasure to put in place. The surge is working?
Even if the lull in the violence is a turning point and not a hiccup, have we gotten what we paid for? As of December 2, 2007, 3,883 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq and 28,582 have been seriously wounded to achieve this dazzling display of democracy. And it’s costing us $270 million a day, totaling over $600 billion so far, with President Bush asking for $200 billion more for 2008.
Invading Iraq was a disaster for America, is a disaster for America, and, I fear, will always be a disaster for America. So sorry, Mr. May, I'll hope for a miracle, but I'm not ready to make nice.