Dr. J.’s Commentary: Surging in Context

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The President, his loyal generals, the PMoP (Privatized Ministry of Propaganda), and even the news media that are not part of the latter (like, for the most part, CNN), are making a big thing about the “success of the surge.” Iraqi civilian deaths are down, violence in Baghdad is down, roadside bombings aimed at U.S. troops are down, U.S. troop deaths are down. Of course, “down” means, variously, halved (although for those killed still a large number) back to where the numbers were in 2006, still approaching 4,000 (reported as combat-related) U.S. military deaths.

But pause, one must, to consider several points. “Victory” is still left undefined by the Republican Scream Machine that is still calling for it. The “successes” that have been achieved seem to be the result of U.S. policing in Baghdad and elsewhere, and is policing really what our military is designed to do, and do we really want it doing that? Bush is now talking about withdrawing troops, which he doesn’t go out of his way to note, would get the number back down to the level it was at before the “surge” started. That’s still lots (120,000-130,000). Is that withdrawal really related to the “success” of the surge? Or is the latter just a lucky happenstance since BushCheney have worn down our ground forces to such an extent that U.S. forces simply cannot be maintained at the “surge” level for very much longer.

Further, the timing of the projected withdrawal, next spring-summer, is interesting. It would come just as the Presidential campaign itself is getting underway. (Couldn’t be related, now could it, like certain military events in the past were related to upcoming elections?) Most importantly, but not noted by Bush and his claque, is that the Iraqi political process for “reconciliation,” the achievement of which the “surge” was supposed to enable, has apparently not gotten underway even at the most perfunctory level.

Many critics of the BushCheney policy have widely and correctly noted these points. What has not been so widely noted, and upon which I comment very briefly here, is the change in the environment in Iraq and what that might have to do with the reduction-in-violence figures noted above. I am a public health physician and we are trained to look at context. For example, could there be any relationship between the U.S. obesity epidemic and the fact that the U.S. food industry produces 3,700 calories of food per person per day and proceeds to sell it when the average person needs 2,200-2,500 calories per day to maintain good health? And so, what might the following factors have to do with the “reduction in violence” in Iraq?

— Falluja, the former home base for a major fraction of the Iraqi resistance, is a largely destroyed, rather non-functioning city. So the “terrorists” or the “freedom fighters” or whatever one wants to call them, simply ain’t there any more.

— Major sections of Baghdad have been ethnically cleansed, creating much more uniform Sunni, Shiite, and other neighborhoods (a wonderful outcome of the U.S. occupation, don’t you think). That in itself would produce a major drop in violence, one would suppose.

— An enormous number of Iraqis have left (estimates are up to 2 million), either as émigrés (if they are lucky) or as refugees (if they are not). That has certainly changed the dynamic in-country.

— It may well be that the U.S. forces have changed their tactics so as to simply not present so many moving targets for Iraqi roadside bombs. Such a change would be well known to the Iraqis but hardly likely to be publicized on U.S. television (for reasons of “national security,” of course).

— Apparently, Iran has significantly reduced its weapons supply to various Iraqi factions in their attempt to reduce the chances that the Cheney/O’RHannibaugh Wing of the Georgites will be able to manufacture an excuse to “nuke ‘em,” (the Iranians simply not understanding that when these people go looking for an excuse to attack another country, they don’t care about facts-on-the-ground; if they are no real ones, they just go ahead and make them up).

So maybe the “surge” has indeed “worked,” but maybe that has more to do with the changing environment in Iraq than with having more U.S. troops there. Of course facts and questions such as these will have not one bit of influence on what the PMoP spews out and how the non-PMoP U.S. media reacts to it.

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY), a weekly Contributing Author for the Web zine The Political Junkies.net; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online; and an invited contributor to the Web log The Daily Scare.
3 comments on “Dr. J.’s Commentary: Surging in Context
  1. You’re right. That is the way to look at the outcome—so far—of this much ballyhhoed surge. As for the immediate, mediate and long term prognosis, let me say this:

    (1) The US empire will try any excuse, fabricate any provocation, real or false flag, to justify keeping a huge contingent of American troops in the Middle East. We need that oil for strategic and consumption reasons and we ain’t taking no for an answer. The robbery has not yet been fully accomplished. Both parties have long signed off on such a “realistic” plan.

    (2) The Georgites are much likely to attack Iran before the current criminal gang formally leaves office. Thereby presenting the new administration with a fait accompli—and another justification for indefinite involvement in the region.

    (3) Should the Pentagon extricate itself from the Iraq swamp, I shudder to think what that will mean for peace in the Western Hemisphere, namely Venezuela and Cuba. The possibility of an attack by the Imperial StarTroopers is high indeed.

    I look forward to Dr Jonas’ next dispatch helping us dissolve the muck that passes for reality in a nation where few know any more which way is up.

  2. Been reading Dr Jonas’s columns for a while, at BuzzFlash, and must say am awfully happy to see that Cyrano is now a home for his materials. If the media barons had one iotaa of integrity they would run material like this in their engines of misinformation. But we know it can’t and won’t be done until this system is thoroughly revamped or done with. Meantime, humanity—and all it influences—must pay the heavy price of ignorance and uncontested prejudice.

  3. If a busy (but concerned citizen and a doctor like mr. Jonas can tell what’s going on clearly and succinctly in a few paragraphs, what’s keeping the great media engines from doing the same? Isn’t that their professional duty? Ha! I think I know. Shame on them.

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