Friday, June 27, 2008

It Wasn't The Surge, It Was The Walls

We've talked about this in the past, but, essentially, the "surge" of troops into Iraq didn't bring down the violence--the enforced segregation of the Iraqi people, the acceptance of the Badr Corps into the legitimate Iraqi government as a security force AND the "appeasement" to our enemies did. Appeasement as in, paying the Sunnis with money and guns not to attack us.

How hard is it to figure out that if you put up walls and help the Iraqis ethnically cleanse their own neighborhoods and then pay the people who were attacking our troops to stop attacking our troops, you'll successfully lower violent attacks for a while, but, ultimately, you'll have gained little or nothing substantive?

Baghdad's walls are everywhere, turning a riverside capital of leafy neighborhoods and palm-lined boulevards where Shiites and Sunnis once mingled into a city of shadows separating the two Muslim sects.

The walls block access to schools, mosques, churches, hotels, homes, markets and even entire neighborhoods — almost anything that could be attacked. For many Iraqis, they have become the iconic symbol of the war.

"Maybe one day they will remove it," said Kareem Mustapha, a 26-year-old Sadr City resident who lives a five-minute walk from a wall built this spring in the large Shiite district.

"I don't know when, but it is not soon."

Indeed, new walls are still going up, the latest one around the northwestern Shiite neighborhood of Hurriyah, where thousands of Sunnis were slaughtered or expelled in 2006. They could well be around for years to come, enforcing Iraq's fragile peace and enshrining the capital's sectarian divisions.

It's called kicking the can down the road, and the next President will simply have to deal with the issues that the so-called "surge" didn't address. This has been the passing of the buck, not the ascendancy of a brilliant strategy.

It's a GOOD THING that there are fewer attacks, but the goal should never have been to slow down the attacks--the goal should have been to leave Iraq to the Iraqis and get US combat troops out of Iraq altogether. Their presence will ALWAYS fuel resentment and they will always be targets of opportunity for whatever dynamic is still in play--even if we stay a hundred years.


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