Monday, January 8, 2007

Escalation in Iraq

Surge is the word of the moment, regarding the Iraq occupation. Let's call it what it really is: Escalation.

True to form, the Democratic Party a.k.a. The War Party is namby-pamby on this, as Gary Younge writes in The Guardian.

For if the Democratic Congress is unwilling to use any means at its disposal to fulfil its democratic mandate, then it will be left to the public to make their displeasure known. It is two years and tens of thousands of lives, some of them American, before the next presidential election. The American people clearly don't want this. A CBS poll last month showed that 18% wanted to see an increase in troop levels compared with 59% who want them either decreased or withdrawn completely. The question is: what are they going to do about it?

The tragic answer is probably nothing. For while opposition to the occupation is clearly broad, its depth is more difficult to fathom. "It's rare when people seriously publicly engage," says Leslie Cagan, the national coordinator of the largest anti-war organisation, United for Peace and Justice. "They watch it on TV, they read about it in the newspapers. They get angry, but that doesn't necessarily mean they engage. So it's difficult to know the depth of feeling."

The Tomb has more: The Bush Gamble

Yet, what is their alternative? They cannot leave Iraq, and don't intend to, so they may well be desperate enough to hope that a drastic escalation in repression in Iraq will be sufficient to pacify the country and reverse the negative assessment not only of the US public, but increasingly of the American ruling class. And this is based at least partially on a realistic assessment, which is that the main problem for the occupation is not sectarian violence but resistance violence (principally roadside bomb attacks). The effect that this has on US public confidence in the war is striking. Aside from the massive Iraqi casualties, 3,000 US bodybags and tens of thousands of wounded or crippled soldiers have been one of the principal reasons for the war's unpopularity. But it is deeper than that. If Americans really believed that the resistance was the work of a small minority of Iraqis, or some Al Qaeda offshoot, they might see this differently: but the breadth and persistence of the resistance, dramatising the fact that Iraqis don't want to be occupied, and the increasing awareness that Iraqis have good reason to fear and despise the occupation, all contribute to growing dissent. Given that withdrawal is simply out of the question for Bush, a last-ditch effort at colossal demonstrative violence may be all he has left. That is: the 'surge' policy is a bifurcate gamble; a PR war directed against Americans; and a terror war directed against Iraqis by the man who brought you the Salvador Option.

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