Friday, September 19, 2008

Surge Myth Flattened

Not that you're likely to hear about it, particularly from either political party (one of the more frustrating elements of this campaign has been watching Obama accept certain wingnut talking points--true, he knows more than me, but still...)--anyway, Shrub's Iraq "surge," according to studies, is all hat, no cattle:

Satellite images taken at night show heavily Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Baghdad began emptying before a U.S. troop surge in 2007, graphic evidence of ethnic cleansing that preceded a drop in violence, according to a report published on Friday.

In other words, the violence declined because the targets of violence had already fled--or been killed.

"By the launch of the surge, many of the targets of conflict had either been killed or fled the country, and they turned off the lights when they left," geography professor John Agnew of the University of California Los Angeles, who led the study, said in a statement.

"Essentially, our interpretation is that violence has declined in Baghdad because of intercommunal violence that reached a climax as the surge was beginning," said Agnew, who studies ethnic conflict.

Some 2 million Iraqis are displaced within Iraq, while 2 million more have sought refuge in neighboring Syria and Jordan. Previously religiously mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad became homogenized Sunni or Shi'ite Muslim enclaves.

The study, published in the journal Environment and Planning A, provides more evidence of ethnic conflict in Iraq, which peaked just before U.S. President George W. Bush ordered the deployment of about 30,000 extra U.S. troops.

The extent to which the troop build-up helped halt Iraq's slide into sectarian civil war has been debated, particularly in the United States, with supporters of the surge saying it was the main contributing factor, and others arguing it was simply one of a number of factors.

"Our findings suggest that the surge has had no observable effect, except insofar as it has helped to provide a seal of approval for a process of ethno-sectarian neighborhood homogenization that is now largely achieved," Agnew's team wrote in their report.

Agnew's team used publicly available infrared night imagery from a weather satellite operated by the U.S. Air Force.

And most people with functioning brain cells understand that elsewhere, it's less "the surge" and more "the bribe."

Someone should ask McCain if he intends to continue the policy.

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