Webster’s New Universal Abridged Dictionary defines “trope” as a heading of subject matter and as a derivation from the Greek as “turn” or “turning.” “Surge” acquired a special meaning when applied to an infusion of thousands of more U.S. troops into Iraq and was also used to describe President Obama’s action of sending some 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan. Much as when we thought that getting rid of poll taxes and literacy tests had removed the main barriers preventing adult U.S. citizens from voting, it was only to discover that deviously clever lawmakers and state governors — mostly Republicans — had a lot more voter suppression tricks up thie sleeves, now we find that many people believe that injecting many more troops unto a battlefield hastens the day when peace is declared. We Americans can’t seem to escape the bad actions of our past. This has been a roundabout way of explaining the title of this blog: : “surge” thinking makes us a more militarist society.
Most Americans have probably forgotten that the announced reason for the troop surge in Iraq was to achieve a number of political goals. There were 18 benchmarks established for the Iraqi government to meet. At the time I was keeping an almost daily logbook of significant happenings in the war in Iraq. About six months after the surge was completed, I assessed how many of the benchmarks had been reached or significant progress had been made. I found that a number of the benchmarks were meaningless, because they could not be measured or evident progress was part of the ebb and flow of battle. The two key benchmarks, however, were to achieve an equitable distribution of oil revenues and resolve the dispute over control of a large swath of territory between the central Iraqi government and the largely autonomous Kurdinh governing structure. I found no movement on these two key benchmarks.
The failure to achieve the two key benchmarks and to improve the political lot of the Sunni people are a source of conflict in today’s Iraq. In the recent Sunni uprising, in which roadways were blocked for a period of weeks and a number of Sunnis were killed by government security forces firing into crowds of protesters, Sunni demands indicated how little political progress had been made: 1) Ramadi tribal leaders want reform of Antiterrorism law and the Justice and Accountability law, which weeds out former members of the Baath Party; 2) a related complaint is that debaathification isn’t applied to Shiites, who were memebers of the Baath Party during the reign of Saddam Hussain; 3) oil revenues have not been equitably distributed; and 4) and Sunnis want to be able to take advantage of the constitutional provision which permits creation of a federal region where they win a majority vote on the issue.
The bottom line is that we should not allow misreadings of past actions lead us into costly misadventures in the present or future: for example, the surge of troops into Afghanistan, ordered by President Barack Obama, was made easier to accept by our mistaken notion that the troop surge in Iraq was a success.
IN THE NEWS: The recent remark by Justice Atonin Scalia that the Voting Rights Act is a case of “racial entitlement” indicates the extent to which our minds have been polluted by this sad excuse for a Supreme Court Justice.