Friday, August 29, 2008

Ann Strieber on 'The Surge'

Lately there's been a great controversy about whether "the surge"—which sent 28,000 more troops into Iraq a year ago— has "worked" or not, with the US military and John McCain saying yes, it's been effective and critics of the war saying no, it hasn't been. But to me the whole question is a matter of words and is thus completely meaningless.

It's been proven that when you put a cop on every corner, you reduce crime, and that's what the surge is: the military equivalent of a cop on every corner. As long as they're in place, where they can be seen by the Iraqis who seem determined to blow each other up, there will be a reduction in suicide bombings and other attacks. As soon as they leave, the civil war will start up again. That's one reason that the Bush administration wanted to permanently station troops in Iraq, although Congress (and the Iraqis themselves!) quashed that idea. In this political season, we have to be aware of how well chosen words and phrases can muddy the truth. Just because something SOUNDS good, that doesn't make it a good idea.

However, I think that the campaign of Hillary Clinton was derailed not so much by what she actually said but because every statement she made seemed like "politics as usual," and voters are really tired of that right now, since it seems to have gotten us embroiled in a war that most of us don't understand and that few of us want to be in, despite the fact that we all support our troops—all of them. I recently heard a report on the radio that said that the military will probably vote overwhelmingly for Obama because the people who are actually "on the ground" in Iraq can't figure out what the heck they're doing there.

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