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The Surge in Surging

If Barack Obama’s trip to the Mid East – and the sudden injection of Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki’s plans into the U.S. political mix – have done anything, they’ve definitely flipped the entire conversation in unexpected ways.  But while many are viewing this as a positive for Barack Obama, there is one highly important question on which the media has jumped the shark entirely, even those dying to be supportive of the presumptive Democratic nominee: we’re now operating under the assumption that The Surge Is Working.

How did we arrive at that?  Is that even true?

What’s even more frustrating is the fact that media icons of the Left are struggling to find ways to continue arguing against a McCain presidency, insisting for example that the “Sunni Awakening” happened before The Surge, tacitly admitting that not only do they believe The Surge is working, but that they refuse to admit this “fact.”  It’s even getting “Digged” as I type.

And I can’t help but notice a critical element missing in all this. . . the facts.  The Surge isn’t failing, exactly, but it’s not working either.  Maliki is playing for his constituency, which is fine and I applaud him doing so, but that doesn’t mean anything else has changed.  What’s happened is that Barack Obama said he would stick to the 16-month timeline, then Maliki agreed to the timeline, then McCain said “but, but, but, . . he couldn’t agree to that if The Surge wasn’t working!”

… And then the media bought it, hook like and sinker without so much as a moment’s cricital inspection.  Now we’re off to the races with another line of BS that ultimately helps John McCain.

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What Happens if the Surge Works?

After a back and forth akin to a poorly-constructed Keystone Cops routine, the Nuri al-Maliki government has made it as clear as possible: call it what you want, but we want the U.S. troops out by 2010.  That happens to be Barack Obama’s timeline, but any way you slice it, they want the U.S. out.  As RT points out, you could hear a pin drop on the subject, here or nationally.

I think Josh Marshall has it about right: they may not want to make it look like they’re affecting politics in the United States, but the Maliki government has made the decision to support the Obama withdrawal timeline most likely in the hopes of exercising at least some control over the occupation and it’s eventual conclusion.  Its a classic example of swinging the political discussion over to your own side of things, and they’re playing it beautifully.  This is a full-scale defection from the Bush Camp in favour of the withdrawal supported not just by Barack Obama but by the Iraqi and American people, both.

So here’s a question which has proved historically entertaining for the last hundred and fifty years or so of American interventionism: what happens if the democracy we supposedly want to setup in Country X actually starts operating in the interest of it’s people – like a democracy should – against our interests?  What if “The Surge” actually works?  What will happen to the Bush agenda in Iraq?  The McCain hopes of a Hundred Year Occupation?

Of course, this whole line of questioning is a bit tongue-in-cheek, anyway: even if by supporting withdrawal, Maliki is pleasing a majority of Iraqis, that doesn’t mean he can pull that coalition together around a stable democracy.  My guess is that, regardless of when we pull out, some additional assistance will be required, hopefully from a more international or even largely-Arab force.

And, oh yeah: even if the press is trying its damnedest to ignore this turn of events at the moment, the long-term effect of this is going to be one more major plus for the Obama camp.  Just wait till it’s time to start the debates.

Late Update: Oh, lame.  Not only is the press trying to ignore the Obama/Maliki connection, but they’re even stooping to split hairs to make distinctions without difference.

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Covering His Ears and Stamping His Feet

As the situation in Iraq degrades towards civil war, The Decider continues to declare progress being made. There is not a whit of recognition, nor will there be for months, that the situation is getting close to out of control. As TPM reports, Baghdad police are leaving in droves and Iraqi soldiers (who, according to the Bush Administration, are fighting in Basra) are back-filling those positions. Meanwhile, our troops are once again filling in the front lines of the Iraqi Civil War:

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 03/27/2008 | Bush: Iraq is returning to normal

President Bush, saying that “normalcy is returning back to Iraq,” argued Thursday that last year’s U.S. troop “surge” has improved Iraq’s security to the point where political and economic progress are blossoming as well.