No US Strategy Left Iraq Better

Iraq pictureThe subject: “In Iraq, 2013 has been the deadliest year since 2008, and the rising death toll could be a potential harbinger of things to come. After the bloodiest civil war period of 2006-07, violence in the country dropped off as a result of the US military’s “surge” strategy. But after US troops left on Dec. 18, 2011, Iraqis were left to come to terms with nearly a decade of war. It soon became apparent that the deep inter-ethnic fissures that almost tore the country apart were merely bandaged, but not remedied.”

XB: The opening statement of this report deserves some scrutiny. It is stated that violence in Iraq “dropped off as a result of the US military’s ‘surge’ strategy.” A brief look at the empirical record challenges this assumption.

Nir Rosen writes extensively about the surge in his book Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World. Writing on the surge he notes that “the extent to which Americans protected Iraqi population during the surge has been romanticized.” He proceeded to support this statement by pointing out that “American airstrikes killed more than 250 civilians in Iraq in 2006 but more than 940 in 2007 and another 400 in 2008. Thus Americans killed more civilians in 2008 than in 2006, at the peak of the civil war.”

The methods of warfare adopted during the “surge” also posed extreme threats to the civilian population. For example, the US military engaged in “terrain denial” operations. Terrain denial operations involved using military artillery in areas populated by civilians. This was in direct contradiction to the “population-centric” methods laid out in the COIN (counterinsurgency) manuals. Moreover, Rosen points out that “airpower advocates have noted [that] more bombs were dropped in 2007 in [the Multi-National Division Baghdad’s] area of operations than at any time earlier in the war.” The MND-B was the “major institutional proponent of executing the surge.”

So to say the surge was responsible for the “dropping off” of violence, as the opening of this report states, is to engage in the romanticizing that Rosen highlights in his book, a portrayal he also describes as a “proverbial truth” of “success” in “the American defense establishment.” The fact that RT has come to adopt this “proverbial truth” makes for interesting commentary on just how deeply sophisticated the American public relations industry remains.


Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World by Nir Rosen


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