Thursday, January 10, 2008

Compare and Contrast: But I Thought The Surge was "Working"?

Bush, one year ago announcing the "Surge":

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

For U.S., The Goal Is Now 'Iraqi Solutions'
Approach Acknowledges Benchmarks Aren't Met

By Thomas E. Ricks and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 10, 2008; A01

In the year since President Bush announced he was changing course in Iraq with a troop "surge" and a new strategy, U.S. military and diplomatic officials have begun their own quiet policy shift.

From Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to Army privates and aid workers, officials are expressing their willingness to stand back and help Iraqis develop their own answers. "We try to come up with Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems," said Stephen Fakan, the leader of a provincial reconstruction team with U.S. troops in Fallujah.

In many cases -- particularly on the political front -- Iraqi solutions bear little resemblance to the ambitious goals for 2007 that Bush laid out in his speech to the nation last Jan. 10.


Although some progress has been made and legislation in some cases has begun to slowly work its way through the parliament, none of these benchmarks has been achieved. Nor has the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki taken over security responsibility for all 18 provinces, as Bush forecast it would. Last month's transfer of Basra province by British forces brought to nine the number of provinces under Iraqi control.


Talk of Iraqi solutions "is largely a red herring," said Wayne White, who led the State Department's Iraq intelligence team from 2003 to 2005. "This is a catchy phrase aimed at touting -- and exaggerating -- success in Sunni Arab areas," such as Anbar, "while diverting focus away from potential downsides related to same," including the creation of local forces allied with the United States but opposed to the Iraqi government.

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