Monday, July 30, 2007

Brookings Institution: That Surge Just Might Be Working!

Mike O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, two heavy hitters at the Brookings Institution, have reached a startling conclusion: "We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms."

Civilian fatality rates are down about a third. That's not the only reason these think tank scholars are optimistic. But that's one reason that matters to me.

34 comments:

LVDem said...

Bernie, I read through the article and like most policy papers, they tucked their warnings in at the end. Here is what it reads:
"In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front. Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed. This cannot continue indefinitely. Otherwise, once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines.

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008."

It appears the scholars, despite their rosy assessment, aren't convinced that the build up in troops can last for a long period of time and that there are significant political problems that remain unsolved. In short, buckle up folks, with this policy, get ready to pay billions more.

The rhetoric which says that political solutions are the key appear to be right on in light of this summary.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem,

What surprises me about this assessment is that it comes from two harsh critics of Bush's inept handling of that war. And I think everyone agrees that the only thing the military can achieve is to create the conditions under which a dipomatic solution is possible.

Here's the postives. 1) Troop morale is high. 2) Iraqi civilian casualties are down a third. 3) The Iraqi military has finally stepped up to the plate. 4) We've finally determined the right enemies - the extremists.

The negatives. 1) The Iraqi National Police is a disaster. 2) Iraqi politicians, like their counterparts here, are mostly useless.

Bernie O'Hare said...

One negative I neglected to mention, but the biggest of them all, is Bush's refusal to talk to his enemies. That's not in the Brookings assessment either. We can't win militarily, so we need to talk and we better be ready to concede that al-Maliki's government will not be around very long.

A.J. Cordi said...

Civilian fatality rates are down about a third..."

They were bound to run out of people to kill sooner or later.

It's time to bring them home...

Greendogdem said...

Pollack and O'hanolan were pro-war till about 2004 what is this bs. They are both neo-con and this is simply part of another bush propganda campaign.

the other problem with the article is it fails to mention that casualities but iraqi and american always drop in the summer.

Greendogdem said...

Jan 74.75 Jan 07 83 +11%
Feb 53.5 Feb 07 81 +34%
March 49.75 March 07 81 +39%
April 91.75 Apr 07 104 +13%
May 88.75 May 07 126 +42%
June 70.5 June 101 +43%
July 55 July 72 +31%
Aug 72
Sept 67
Oct 88.66
Nov 97
Dec 84

there are the avg deaths for us troop in iraq from 2004 to this year these numbers are generally proportional to the number of iraqi civilian deaths in iraq on avg by month. as you see on avg apr and may are high death months and june and July are low death months on avg

LVDem said...

Pollack is currently on CNN and is offering an interesting overview. What's really interesting is that he is being very careful with his language. He's seeing some improvements, but when asked "do you think we might win this war" he said he still doesn't know what winning will look like and as the author of the article the he didn't get to choose the title.

He's basically saying that there is a potential for success. He's said several times that he's looking for just about anything that suggests improvements and that the only conclussion to draw from this article is that there needs to be continued assessment if there is continued military efforts. He's very skeptical of political progress and has basically given up on Baghdad's ability to drive any kind of activity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

GreenDog,

I've looked into what you say, and you seem to be both right and wrong. Civilian casualties do ebb and flow depending on the time of year. But they go exactly in the reverse of the way you suggest. During the summer, they tend to go up, not down.

In May 2006, for example, there 2,669 civilian deaths, according to Brookings. A month later, there were 3,149, a dramatic increase.

In May 2007, there were 1,900 civilian casualties. In June 2007, there were 1,342.

That's a big drop, and at a time when casualties should be going up.

Petraeus explains this by saying, "The sheikhs and the tribes and the leaders have banded together and made a decision to oppose al-Qaeda and that has resulted in a substantially improved security situation."

I'd agree w/ LVDem that this does say there's a "potential" for success. There is a slight ray of hope, something we did not have a few short weeks ago. It's the first positive sign we've had in some time.

You are right when you point out that O'Hanlon and Pollack both supported the original invasion. So did nearly every Democratic presidential contendor. Are they neo-cons, too?

I'm still very dubious because Bush shows no inclination to talk to his enemies. Come to think of it, neither does Hillary. And I think we all agree this has to be resolved, if it can be resolved, politically.

Greendogdem said...

it's called avg (didn't you take stats)

avg deaths for us troop in iraq from 2004 to this year these numbers are generally proportional to the number of iraqi civilian deaths in iraq on avg by month. as you see on avg apr and may are high death months and june and July are low death months on avg

Greendogdem said...

the other reason i don't believe them is because it took the person interviewing them several times to get him to admit that they were being lead around by the hand by the miltary. I also question the asertions about troop morale I know several people who have come back to iraq who told me they were instructed to lie to reporters and threatened with courtmarshall if they said anything bad about what was going on

Greendogdem said...

and this is part of a partern every time there is an attempt to remove troops

Bernie O'Hare said...

GreenDog,

I think there is some cause for optimism. It's very limited, but it's there. Pollack and O'Hanlon were a little misleading to describe themselves as vocal anti=war critics, especially since Pollack authored a book advocating an Iraqi invasion when he served on Clinton's NSC. But this sounds like good news to me.

LVDem said...

what really sad, is that as an optimistic person, this is the best opportunity for hope presented since 2004. And I'm not sure it's even that much to be hopeful for.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Agreed.

Greendogdem said...

we heard this type of stuff two years ago and two years before that etc. I'm at the point that unlessI hear this from a trustworthy source and these two simply are not I will take it with a giant grain of salt. They also failed to mention that the surge has made the humanitarian problem worse and has increased theft and crime

Larry Kisslinger said...

OK, in the past and now, let's just "talk" to Bin asshole (I will never understand why human bombers don't ask Bin & others to go first if suicide is so wonderful)! Also,
let's just talk to other enemies, terrorists, Russia, Germany, Japan, Iran, North Korea, Cindy Sheehan, George Soros, Michael Moore & the rest. Better yet, let's just pull out of Iraq and impeach Bush and Cheney! All will then be well and you can kiss your FREEDOM goodbye! Get a simple grip on life as it relates to volunteer soldiers fighting for you and me! Schumer, Reid, Pelosi and the rest of these nitwits, liberal press and hollyweirds need to understand FREEDOM before we lose what we have in our USA. What don't you now personally not have that you would like to have in our America, the greatest Country in the history of the World? The answer is NOTHING because of our FREEDOM. So what's the problem?
I guess it's just "you" when you keep complaining and have no solutions like most bubblehead candidates & most pols who trip over themselves seeking tv cameras (& blogs) to spew nonsensical views with no counter proposals to deal with people who want to kill us! go figure! larry@kisslinger.com

Bernie O'Hare said...

Larry,

Regardless of our ideologies, we probably agree Iraq is a mess. I think, in all fairness, you have to agree that Bush has made a mess of things. I'll agree that many of the Dems in Congress have exploited this issue for political purposes. I'll agree there are no easy answers. I think "out of Iraq, now" is just as foolhardy as "stay the course."

This will not be solved in a thirty second sound bite.

The ISG concludes we need to talk to our enemies. American generals in Iraq conclude we need to use diplomacy to make the best of a bad situation because there is only so much a military can do. We talked to our deadliest enemy, the Soviet Union, for decades.

I'm not suggesting we coddle bin Laden. He's a criminal who should be hunted down and brought to justice. But there are nations surrounding Iraq, and it's time we talk to them, don't you think?

More important than that, we need to talk and listen to each other. GreenDog and I have different views, but I need to listen to him as well as you. We're too frickin' divided, and it's everyone's fault. Time to put our heads together, remember we're all on the same team, and try to figure this one out.

Anonymous said...

volunteer ha ha alot of the soldier are being held there against their will. The miltary won't release them after they have served their tours of duty. The reserves and national guard a being abused to the point they can't even recruit.

Larry Kisslinger said...

Bernie,
"talking" to our enemies is one thing, but some suggest it is the "only" thing and the same folks only throw hand grenades. they are liberals who only want to grasp power and could give one shit about solving problems that you, me and others agree need to be done sooner rather than later. We need solutions, not thrown hand grenades, finger pointing, bull shit congressional hearings and impeachment crap all the time is all I hear from most is my point! We have only one President at all times and must support him or her, right or wrong! Media & Pols on other side always give comfort to our enemies for political gain and result is only harm to our troops and Country. very frustrating to me...see what I mean by anon last comment about voluteers "not" really being volunteers? larry@kisslinger.com

Anonymous said...

the president only has the say as long as he can hold 33% of the votes in congress

Anonymous said...

you obviously don't understand the roll of president of the United states either. The President only has the right to mobilize the troops so long as the congress allows it. If the congress wanted to it could simply disband the miltary

Anonymous said...

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress

Larry Kisslinger said...

Anonymous 11:26 PM said...the president only has the say as long as he can hold 33% of the votes in congress.
As I said before, Dubya is not the president as you suggest, he is your and my President which you are not wanting to acknowledge in all your Anonymous cowardice!
Despite all the liberal bull shit, our President has twice the poll ratings of nitwit liberals in Congress last I heard! No matter he is "still' your President and mine. What part of that fact do you not understand? I will never know! Stop slinging your bull shit and try to deal with the issues at hand and stop trying to divide our Country as all liberals keep doing with no ideas of their/your own.
everyone else is wrong and you are correct doesn't work with me. Do you have any ideas or solutions to save America from killers?

LVDem said...

larry, you need to calm down, brother. You sound a bit angry.

Truth of the matter is that George Bush botched this one big time. You know it. I know it and O'Hare even gave you the opportunity to comment about it and you ignored it. It frankly sounds as if your loyalty is entirely vested in George Bush, not the condition of our union or her safety.

Greendogdem said...

Jul-07 1664
Jun-07 1345
May-07 1980
Apr-07 1821
Mar-07 2977
Feb-07 3014
Jan-07 1802
Dec-06 1752
Nov-06 1864
Oct-06 1539
Sep-06 3539
Aug-06 2966
Jul-06 1280
Jun-06 870
May-06 1119
Apr-06 1009
Mar-06 1092
Feb-06 846
Jan-06 779

Bernie O'Hare said...

GreenDog, Please do not throw random numbers out there. Please state what the numbers represent and identify your source, including a link if you have one.

Greendogdem said...

iraqi deaths by month

iCasualties.org

Greendogdem said...

Period ISF Civ

Jan-06 189 590
Feb-06 158 688
Mar-06 191 901
Apr-06 201 808
May-06 150 969
Jun-06 132 738
Jul-06 217 1063
Aug-06 233 2733
Sep-06 150 3389
Oct-06 224 1315
Nov-06 123 1741
Dec-06 123 1629
Jan-07 91 1711
Feb-07 150 2864
Mar-07 215 2762
Apr-07 300 1521
May-07 198 1782
Jun-07 197 1148
Jul-07 228 1460

Bernie O'Hare said...

Greendog,

I'm assuming you mean Iraqi civilian deaths. You'll notice your numbers differ from those at Brookings. I don't want to play that game.

Greendogdem said...

breakdown between civ deaths and iraq security forces

Bernie O'Hare said...

Greendog, I don't really want to play a numbers game. I spent two hjours last night before I could find the numbers I used, and newither of us can have very much confidence in their accuracy.

Suffice it to say, two Brookings scholars who originally supported the invasion find reason for hope. They might be playing a spin game, as you intimate, or might be sincerely expressing an oipinion. I've read their account and I find reason for some hope. It is still a mostly bleak account. But I'm not going to make the mistake of dismissing this account just because it doesn't jibe with my world view. I'll pay attention to it, but am still concerned about an Iraq government that seems hopelessly inept.

Anonymous said...

Greendog, you might check out two anti-war Democratic Congressmen saying basically the same thing, including our only Muslim representative:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-07-30-ellison-iraq_N.htm

Bernie O'Hare said...

These dudes seem to corroborate what Pollack & O'Hanlon have to say. I read that one favors a timeline withdrawal, but one that is something that Patraeus can live with.

Greendogdem said...

Iraqi deaths spike five months into US troop surge

At least 1,652 civilians were killed in Iraq in July, 33 percent more than in the previous month, according to figures compiled by the Iraqi health, defence and interior ministries and made available to AFP.