Sunday, February 18, 2007

Is the "surge" in Iraq working?

An article in The New York Times by Marc Santora entitled "Baghdad Plan Is a 'Success,' Iraq Prime Minister Tells Bush" tells us that Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., commander of the First Cavalry Division in Baghdad said that "there had been a substantial reduction in violence in the past 48 hours", but then they quote him as adding a critical caveat:

They're watching us carefully... There's an air of suspense throughout the city. We believe, there's no question about it, that many of these extremists are laying low and watching to see what it is we do and how we do it. How long that will last, we don't know.

The good news is that it could have been a whole lot worse, if the insurgents had decided to step up their own attacks.

Now the question is whether the insurgents are in fact intentionally lying low waiting for complacency to set in, or whether they might in fact simply try to outwait the U.S. forces and regroup for renewed activity in a year or eighteen months.

Most sensible people are likely to presume that the initial calm will not likely be any more than a calm before a storm.

My belief is that the insurgents are primarily interested in fighting U.S. troops as long as they are in Iraq but would be equally joyful if the U.S. departed. They can wait and fight or simply wait. Which they do will be anybody's guess.

My suspicion is that random events are more likely to determine the outcome. Eventually somebody is likely to lose patience and do something stupid. In general, one act of stupidity tends to lead to a downwards spiral of stupid responses. It is also possible that somebody might do something that is not clearly stupid but that could be misinterpreted in a stupid manner.

Do not forget that "the fog of war" tends not to be an accurate characterization of the degree of rational behavior that can be expected in an armed conflict.

-- Jack Krupansky


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