Emerging from the deadliest year yet in Iraq: a grab at political progress. After all, the point of the surge was a military strategy to overflow the country with soldiers to create breathing room for diplomatic and political solutions. That seems difficult with the Iraqi government on another month break (I imagine something like a Crawford ranch, with just a little bit more shooting into the air).
Some liken the surge to the recent decrease in violence toward both coalition forces and Iraqi civilians. Something a bit interesting is the six month ceasefire from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr at the end of August, coming straight from the deadliest summer since the invasion. Suddenly, the flow of EFPs, the rarest of roadside bombs but also the most deadly, began to decline after Sadr's Mahdi army laid down their arms. Sectarian issues began to cool in Baghdad. What do you know? The ceasefire is set to end next month. With the hole the ceasefire and surge created in the tangled web of Iraqi politics, they probably should have landed on the moon by now. Sadly, the amount of electricity in Baghdad per day is lower than it was before Saddam, and the electricity minister hopes to have it at about Saddam-era levels in 2011. Next week marks the one year announcement of the infamous benchmarks for the Iraqi government to reach by last November. Whatever happened to those?
Rumblings from my old stomping grounds: a female suicide bomber killed ten in Baqubah. Female bombers are rare but that was the third in a month in Diyala. At least insurgents are equal opportunity now.
I also spotted a story about an 'oh shit' killing of insurgents turned neighborhood watch. Still without proper uniforms (and the stupidity to neglect their reflective belt), they're beginning to feel the burn of Americans killing them on accident. We got off on a rough start, you could say. With Osama stepping up efforts to go after them, it'll be a bad day when they had enough and go back to fighting both of us, like they said they would.
Remember Iraq? The Democratic candidates don't, but the Republican candidates do, as the word 'success' is being tossed around D.C. like it's been there since mission accomplished. I suppose the only thing both sides have in common is using the war and our soldiers as a Kleenex issue, ready to dispose of when they're no longer useful.
What you likely have forgotten is Afghanistan, slipping deeper into chaos with a Taliban resurgence, coupled with what is going to a be record crop of opium, used to finance insurgent fighters. Per capita, it's more deadly than Iraq, with only 50,000 troops there to hold against the Taliban influx. A war almost the whole world can agree on, and there's a little being done, save Secretary Gates asking allies to contribute. Be sure to read this article on what happens when there are too few troops in an area crawling with Taliban. Policy that directs assets and soldiers to Iraq to fight in that war is what gets men killed in Afghanistan, simply put. They don't have enough manpower and equipment to fight their fight. With the supposed success in Iraq, it's high time we have another surge, this time in Afghanistan.
This has been on my mind all new year. It was left anonymously in a comment section of an earlier entry:
Sometime this year, an eighteen year old soldier will die in a war that started when he was thirteen.
Hold onto that. Let it linger.