Daily Archives: March 27, 2008

Sisyphus’s Surge

When the surge was first proposed, I said it was a foolish thing to do. I conceded that it could temporarily dampen violence. However, we were like Sisyphus, rolling the stone up the hill, and before it reaches the top, it will roll down again. With the outbreak of violence in Basra, I fear that Sisyphus’s boulder is rolling down the hill again.

Conservatives like to say that liberals take glee every time there’s bad news from Iraq. We don’t. We (well, I’m not quite a liberal) are angry because this was preventable. Our soldiers are dying because you sent them on a fool’s errand. We take no delight in being prescient about disaster. Instead, we are aghast that you are so detached from reality.

I’ve said that the surge has been a strategic failure (no political reconciliation, which was the stated purpose of the surge by surge-proponents), but now I want to go even further. As we continue with this boondoggle, we pump billions of dollars in Iraq. Much of this money simply disappears. The Iraqi government is a thinly veiled sectarian stronghold and some of this money undoubtedly goes into weapons. At the same time, we are bribing Sunnis not to kill us and not to kill other Iraqis. Undoubtedly, some of that money will go into weapons. The longer we stay in Iraq, the more money we dump into a civil war. We are fanning the flames. We are making the situation worse.

The surge was limited and we could maintain that troop level only for so long without breaking our military. That is why I predicted that any gains would be transient. We simply do not have the troops to pacify Iraq without a draft. Furthermore, because we do not have the necessary economic plan to rebuild Iraq and because we still do not enough people who speak their language, we cannot make the correct long term investments to make any real gains in Iraq. We’re attempting to nation-build with the military, which is the wrong approach. It is like trying to turn a screw with a hammer.

While I do recognize that leaving Iraq will not be a cakewalk, it is abundantly clear that the only correct option is to withdraw our troops. It is impossible to do what the proponents of war want us to achieve. We do not have enough men or cultural awareness. Our presence destabilizes Iraq while it bankrupts us. That is enough to discredit the pro-occupation stance.