Holding the Government Accountable

What Is the Surge Really Causing?

Army soldiers take a class on how to handle enemy prisoners of war at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas, Aug. 13, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon

"In his "Washington Babylon" section of the Harper's Magazine website, journalist Ken Silverstein and Straus Military Reform Project Adviser Col. Douglas Macgregor (U.S. Army, ret.) exchanged questions and answers about the current situation and the effects of the ""surge"" in Iraq. Straus Military Reform Project director Winslow Wheeler summarizes the main points of the Macgregor-Silverstein Q&A, ""Six Questions for Douglas Macgregor on Iraq and the 'Surge'"" below.

Col. Macgregor makes these and other points in a new, unpublished article, ""Great Awakening of Perfect Storm."" Find Col. Macgregor's exchange with Harper's Ken Silverstein here. We summarize this exchange as follows:

Col. Macgregor notes the following:

The situation on the ground in Iraq has, indeed, changed, but the reduced violence has little, if anything, to do with the ""surge.""

The nation of Iraq no longer exists; it is now three fundamentally segregated communities, each of them still deeply hostile to each other.

The virtual completion of ethnic cleansing, bribes and subsidies paid to former Sunni insurgents, and independent action by Muqtada al Sadr to suspend operations against Americans are the root causes of the reduced violence in Iraq. Each of these occurred independent of, even before, the ""surge's"" arrival in Iraq.

The basis for virulent new violence between Sunnis and Shiites, Shiite factions against each other, and the forgoing against the United States all remain and may even be exacerbated. The Bush administration decision to remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future makes the outbreak of new violence more, not less, likely.

Simultaneously, the conditions are being laid for broader conflict in the region involving Turkey, Kurdistan, multiple Sunni-dominated governments, Iran, and the United States. Just as the Bush administration blundered into a conflict in Iraq it neither understood nor could contain, it is now ready to provoke, perhaps inadvertently, an even more threatening set of conflicts throughout the region.

To find "Six Questions for Douglas Macgregor on Iraq and the 'Surge'," click here.