Earlier, John Amato noted that General David Petraeus is using phrases like "Long struggle", "not irreversible", "still hard", "many clouds on the horizon"…and of course the ever fresh "fragile" progress.
John asks "Is that what success is, fragile?"
- In the North, Kurdish peshmerga are facing off against the Iraqi Army and the Kurds are stealthily landgrabbing around the disputed city of Kirkuk. Amid accusations of kurdish oppression and ethnic clearing of Arabs in the region, it is "now on the verge of exploding." Any such explosion would lead to American forces choosing between three allies - the Kurds, Iraqi central government and NATO member Turkey, who would not sit idly by while a Kurdish independent state was formed.
- Also in the North, in the Sunni city of Mosul, violence is rising again. The number of attacks had fallen from 130 a week to 30 a week in July. But today they are back up to between 60 and 70 a week. The reason is simple - Maliki's Shiite majority are cracking down on other Sunni dissenters under the guise of hunting Al Qaeda.
- Across Sunni regions, there's a growing storm of discontent among members of the Awakening. The US says there are 100,000 Sons of iraq but the Iraqi government only admits to 50,000 - and they only plan to find new jobs for 20% of those. The rest are to be cut off and told that if they continue to carry weapons they are criminals. You can guess how that's going to go. If even 20% of the Sons of Iraq return to violence, they'll comprise an insurgency equal in size to the highest US estimates of Al Qaeda in Iraq at its zenith.
- In the Shiite South, the Sadrist movement still isn't dead or defeated. But it has been pushed into the arms of Iran, from whom it had previously mainteained a distance despite rightwing claims otherwise. Sadr is streamlining his movement into a massive political arm and a smaller military one, and his people are still observing his self-imposed ceasefire. But that could yet change - there's a move among the Green Zone elite to run provincial elections under the old laws since they can't get a new law passed. This would disenfranchise Sadrists along with all the other "powers that aren't" (like the Awakening movement) and, with no prospect for getting their voices heard peacefully, the pressure to return to violence to get some say will be overwhelming.
So, all this explains why Petraeus is telling the BBC that he will "never declare victory" in Iraq. Because he knows full well that there's every reason to believe that the entire country could blow up again and the "success' of the Surge even in reducing violence will be seen to be entirely temporary.
But all this hasn't stopped John McCain, Joe Lieberman and others pushing a "sense of the Senate" amendment on the fiscal year 2009 Defense Authorization bill. Lieberman introduced the amendment, which he described as "bipartisan" even though it has no Democratic sponsors. In part it reads:
[It is the sense of the Senate to] recognize the success of the troop surge in Iraq and its strategic significance in advancing the vital national interests of the United States in Iraq, the Middle East, and the world, in particular as a strategic victory in a central front of the war on terrorism
Which is simply a lie, according to the military's own assessments, and is purely designed to allow the McCain campaign to trot out the names of all those who vote for this amendment (and who vote against it)for political purposes. If you're a Democat and vote "Yay", you disagree with Obama; if you vote "Nay", you're a defeatist who won't acknowledge "the troops" success in McCain's precious Surge. Either way, McCain has a new attack.That the military itself doesn't really acknowledge that "success" - for good reasons - has nothing to do with McCain's cynical move.
Crossposted from Newshoggers