Niall Ferguson’s offers a political analgesic, in the good grey Times. Political Observer comments

After a quick search for the proper historical analogy for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Mr. Ferguson provides the ‘correct analogy’, and dismisses any notion that this will lead to WWIII. But note that Ferguson echos the rhetoric of the Iranian Revolution, at its most shrill:

My response to the news that US forces had assassinated Qassem Soleimani was: “Good riddance. Now what?” No tears should be shed for Soleimani. As the mastermind of Iran’s numerous proxy wars beyond the Islamic Republic’s borders, he had the blood of countless people on his hands, including hundreds of American and coalition soldiers killed by the Shi’ite militias he helped to train and finance. Second only to the Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in personal power, Soleimani had come to personify the ruthless, bloodthirsty spirit of the regime in Tehran.

Soleimani: the blood of countless people on his hands, Soleimani had come to personify the ruthless, bloodthirsty spirit of the regime in Tehran.

Ferguson begins his attack on Obama as ‘squandering all that had been achieved in the “surge” that ended the last Iraqi civil war.’

This assassination does nothing to solve the problem created by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, when he decided to liquidate the US presence in Iraq in excessive haste, squandering all that had been achieved in the “surge” that ended the last Iraqi civil war.

Here is Stephen Walt on the “surge”

Headline: The myth of the “surge”

Sub-headline: With the level of violence rising and the Kurds pressing for a level of autonomy that borders on independence, can we finally dispense with the myth that the 2007 “surge” in Iraq was a success? The surge had two main goals. The first goal was to bring the level of violence down by increasing U.S. …

With the level of violence rising and the Kurds pressing for a level of autonomy that borders on independence, can we finally dispense with the myth that the 2007 “surge” in Iraq was a success?

The surge had two main goals. The first goal was to bring the level of violence down by increasing U.S. force levels in key areas, forging a tactical alliance with cooperative Sunni groups, and shifting to a counterinsurgency strategy that emphasized population protection. This aspect of the surge succeeded, though it is still hard to know how much of the progress was due to increased force levels and improved tactics and how much was due to other developments, such as the prior “ethnic cleansing” that had separated the contending groups.

The second and equally important goal was to promote political reconciliation among the competing factions in Iraq. This goal was not achieved, and the consequences of that failure are increasingly apparent. What lies ahead is a long-delayed test of strength between the various contending groups, until a new formula for allocating political power emerges. That formula has been missing since before the United States invaded — that is, Washington never had a plausible plan for reconstructing a workable Iraqi state once it dismantled Saddam’s regime — and it will be up to the Iraqi people to work it out amongst themselves. It won’t be pretty.

With the passage of time, the “surge” should be seen as a well-intentioned attempt to staunch the violence temporarily and let President Bush hand the problem off to his successor. Hawks will undoubtedly try to pin the blame on Obama by claiming that we were (finally) winning by the time Bush left office, in the hope that Americans have forgotten the strategic objectives that the “surge” was supposed to achieve. It’s a bogus argument, but what would you expect from the folks who got us in there in the first place?

The myth of the “surge”

 

Political Observer

 

 

 

 

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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