March 28, 2008

Is “the Surge is working” still working? [update]

With 25 regular contributors, The Corner over at NRO is usually an excellent source for instopinion on the political minutia of the day?a perpetually spinning no-spin zone. It?s thus rather interesting that as news broke of the Shia-on-Shia violence in Basra throughout the day, The Corner was ? silent. (Or at least as of this writing in the wee hours of Friday morning.) The only thing the NRO staff managed was a rather limp critique at around 8:11 AM of the current location of the liberal media; the reader was then directed to the patriotic reportage of Michael Yon, a house favorite.

I?m not sure exactly where Yon was stationed, but he was able to pick up a feed of the White House talking points and attempted to interpret the fighting in Basra as an example of the strength and independence of Baghdad and the Iraqi army in their confrontation with ?civil disobedience.? 

What?s really happening is that ?the Surge is working? mantra is collapsing before our eyes. The drop in violence was purchased not simply with greater troop presence but with a convenient cease-fire by the Shia militia leader Moktada al-Sadr in the South and our bribing and arming of Sunnis in the West. ?The Surge is working? worked in the sense that it allowed Americans to sweep their dissatisfaction with the war under the rug for a few months and attain the peace of mind of ?at least it?s not getting any worse.? While NR stuck to their ideological insanity and sang of ?Reliberating Iraq?, most America just didn?t want to think about the whole mess. Petraeus was a great hero in that he allowed Iraq to fall off the front page and 24-hour ticker. With a new fracturing of Iraq?this time the southern Shia militia going up against the Shia Iraqi state?the respite is over. Our war aims are still incompatible with reality—whether NR wants to talk about it or not.

UPDATE: I take it all back, Lopez has offered us this probing analysis:

“Of Course, Another Reason Europeans May Have a Low Opinion of Us … may have something to do with a pro-Sadr rally on the front-page, above the fold. Basra’s a big story. But so has the surge been, in a big way.”  The Europeans hate us; give us “equal time”; is there any other trope of conservative victimization she’s missed in avoiding talking about Iraq?

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