Is the Surge Really Working?


“The surge is working” John McCain keeps saying.

Clearly McCain is invested deeply in his own lunge for power. In 2007 he abandoned many of his long-held beliefs in order to align with the Republican Party. As Barack Obama quipped, “Somewhere along the way, the ’straight talk express’ lost some wheels.”

Still, in one sense, McCain’s assessment of the surge is accurate: the daily dead body count is lower. Does that mean the new strategy is working, or does it simply remind us that the old one failed?

Death stats aside, what is life like for Iraqis since the surge began? It’s hard to know, as Western reporters aren’t allowed past Sunni and Shia checkpoints. But here is one of the few informed reports I’ve found. These two videos, Baghdad’s City of Walls and Baghdad’s Killing FieldsGhaith Abdul-Ahad, are the first and second installments in Abdul-Ahad’s series of films to mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war. Iraqi photojournalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad risked his life traveling through the heart of Baghdad to test whether there’s validity to claims that the surge is bringing stability to Iraq. He finds that the U.S. military surge, by enclosing the Sunni and Shia populations behind 20 foot walls, has left the city more divided and more fearful than ever before.

But, hey, at least they’re “safer.” Life may not be as peachy as it was under Saddam–the “brutal dictator”–but look how it’s improved since the military tweaked it’s “rules of engagement” (which previously advised soldiers to shoot at anything brown that moved).

So people are slightly less afraid now than when they were at their most vulnerable. And there has never been “another 9/11″ since 9/11. The formula that works in the U.S. apparently has been plugged into Iraq. Mass tragedy shocks a population into lowering its standards; this is part of what Naomi Klein describes as “Disaster Capitalism.” Quality of life becomes irrelevant, so long as hearts keep beating lungs fill up with air.

Ahh, yes, the surge is working. The living still outnumber the dead. Technically.


~ by Matthew Frederick on March 24, 2008.

5 Responses to “Is the Surge Really Working?”

  1. I disagree with pretty much this whole post, but that should not surprise you.

  2. Are you sure you read it?

  3. Do you disagree with the Ghaith Abdul-Ahad films, too? And if so, which mainstream media segments would you recommend as more accurate?

  4. Nir Rosen has written a sobering account of the failure of the surge.

    Naomi Klein rocks.

  5. as of today, the shia are uprising again……..
    the surge ‘worked’ because the militias allowed it to work……

    this is far from reaching a nadir

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