Can’t Knock the Surge?

Generally speaking, the foreign policy case for John McCain has three parts:

1. John McCain supported the surge before it was cool.

2. The surge caused a reduction in violence.

3. This implies that McCain has good foreign policy judgment.

The accuracy, importance and relevance of the first and third points have been questioned extensively, of course. The second one is generally taken as an article of faith, and granted even by Obama backers. But is it true? Is the surge mainly responsible for the decline in violence, or were Moqtada al-Sadr’s semi-retirement, the Anbard awakening, and the ethnic cleansing in Baghdad bigger factors? Was the surge even a tactical success?

Ezra and I doubted it. But don’t take our word for it: we asked basically every think tank type who writes about Iraq for their thoughts, and they all agree it’s complicated. The results are here. Unsurprisingly, Michael O’Hanlon and John Nagl represent the right flank, with Juan Cole and Larry Korb on the left and Colin Kahl, Tom Ricks, etc. somewhere in between.

2 thoughts on “Can’t Knock the Surge?

  1. “Hey Dylan, how was your week?”
    “Oh, not too bad. I got called a Commie by James Kirchick and shared a byline with Ezra Klein. So, you know, the usual.”

  2. Sure, but the problem is that when the media makes these connections, questionable as they may be, they really stick in a lot of people’s minds. How to fight that is a tough question.

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