Supporters of the war in Iraq, like Senator John McCain, say the “surge” is making progress. That we must give General David Petraeus, a man who can seemingly do no wrong, time to make his plan work. But are additional troops really helping? Or is Baghdad simply becoming reoccupied–with disastrous results?
The NewsHour’s Margaret Warner recently posed these questions to New York Times Iraq correspondent Ed Wong, who’s analyzed the escalation. His answers were illuminating.
“There’s no clear picture right now on what’s going on with the surge,” Wong said. “Basically, the picture is still one of massive violence throughout large parts of Iraq.” Overall Iraqi casualties have not dropped. And casualties for US troops in Baghdad have doubled since the operation began seven weeks ago.
Wong went on a number of foot patrols with US and Kurdish soldiers throughout the city. Here’s what he found:
What struck me was that a lot of the tactics that they were doing now were tried back in 2003 and in early 2004.
I mean, back then, you couldn’t go anywhere in Baghdad without encountering American convoys, without seeing American soldiers on the corners. They were everywhere throughout the city. It definitely felt like an occupied city at that point.
Then, the American military started pulling back into these big bases, and that was when sectarian violence really exploded. And now they’re trying to get back out into the neighborhoods again.
So I watched these American soldiers talking to families, trying to go into living rooms, gather intelligence from the families. And in many cases, it seemed a little bit awkward to me. There was this disconnect, I think, partly because of language, partly because the soldiers walked in with so many weapons and so much armor.
And here you have these Iraqi families there who were finishing dinner or trying to settle in for the night. These soldiers come in. They asked them about activity in the neighborhoods. And then the families looked a little nervous, and then the soldiers would leave.
Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.