Sunday, September 14, 2008

MEDIA PUSHES 'SURGE' MYTH

Robert Parry, Consortium News - Despite strong evidence to the contrary, it has become established conventional wisdom among mainstream Washington journalists that the "surge" was the singular reason for the recent decline in Iraq's violence. It's also agreed that McCain deserves great credit for pushing the "surge" idea early.

Barack Obama has been repeatedly chastised -- even badgered -- for opposing the "surge." His attempts to refocus the debate more broadly on the wisdom of invading Iraq in the first place are rudely rejected by Big Media interviewers. . .

In reality, the "surge" of about 30,000 additional troops sent to Iraq appears to have been only one factor and -- according to military officials interviewed for Bob Woodward's new book, The War Within -- possibly a secondary one in explaining the drop-off in the violence that had made Iraq a living hell. . .

Woodward, whose book draws heavily from Pentagon insiders, reported that the Sunni rejection of al-Qaeda extremists in Anbar province (which preceded the surge) and the surprise decision of radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr to order a unilateral cease-fire by his militia were two important factors.

A third factor, which Woodward argued may have been the most significant, was the use of new highly classified U.S. intelligence tactics that allowed for rapid targeting and killing of insurgent leaders. Woodward agreed to withhold details of these secret techniques from his book so as not to undercut their continuing success. . .

Other brutal factors -- that the Washington press corps almost never mentions -- help explain the decline in violence:

- Vicious ethnic cleansing has succeeded in separating Sunnis and Shiites to such a degree that there are fewer targets to kill. Several million Iraqis are estimated to be refugees either in neighboring countries or within their own.

- Concrete walls built between Sunni and Shiite areas have made "death-squad" raids more difficult but alshave "cantonized" much of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, making everyday life for Iraqis even more exhausting as they seek food or travel to work.

- During the "surge," U.S. forces expanded a policy of rounding up so-called "military age males" and locking up tens of thousands in prison.

- Awesome U.S. firepower, concentrated on Iraqi insurgents and civilian bystanders for more than five years, has slaughtered countless thousands of Iraqis and has intimidated many others to look simply to their own survival.

- With the total Iraqi death toll estimated in the hundreds of thousands and many more Iraqis horribly maimed, the society has been deeply traumatized. As tyrants have learned throughout history, at some point violent repression does work.

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