Hagel's retreat to battle

The Nebraska Senator now sees merit in securing the borders of Iraq and fighting al Qaeda. He is not supporting the Levin interference with Gen. Petraeus's job in Baghdad. He is also recognizing how much his vote on the non-binding resolution cost him at home. This is an interview with a local TV reporter. Hat tip to Brian Bresnahan.

Hagel still does not comprehend the value of the surge, because he is caught up in the Senate mindset that it is a sectarian civil war that cannot be won. He and the rest of the Senators who share that point of view are missing what is really happening. While the violence that preceded the surge had some elements of a civil war it was also missing several elements of a civil war. For example, the Shia militia that was attacking Sunnis was not anti government nor was it making direct attacks on US forces all that often. It was making attacks of retribution against Sunnis who were targeting non combatants.

If this was a civil war it is unique in that both sides were mainly targeting non combatants. How does someone seize power when they do not have the capacity to attack government forces. Hagel does not say, because he probably has not thought about it. That is what happens when your focus in the generic violence and not the nature of the violence.

Since the surge, the Shai militias have largely stood down and the total violence is down about 80 percent according to the Iraqis and some Iraqi bloggers. This is a significant reduction that has no corresponding rise in violence against the US forces participating which appears to be Hagel's main concern. The Sunnis and al Qaeda continue to launch a few car bomb attacks against non combatants in markets and, Sunday, at a school. As the surge builds these attacks will be harder to maintain and more of the places where the bombs are put together will be found.

For Hagel's next interview he should be asked why his fear about the result of the surge has not been realized. He might argue that it could bet worse as more troops arrive, but history suggest that the opposite will happen, because as the force to space ratio goes up, it will be harder for the enemy to move to contact and avoid detection.

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