Republican presidential candidate John McCain has made his earlier endorsement of the "surge" strategy in Iraq a prominent feature of his campaign. By portraying the surge as a huge success, McCain poses as a foreign policy savant and depicts Barack Obama, who didn't favor the surge, as a candidate who "does not understand the challenges we face, and did not understand the need for the surge. And the fact that he did not understand that, and still denies that it has succeeded, I think the American people will make their judgment."
Presidential hopeful John McCain might one day be embarrassed by his words. The surge might have diminished prospects for longer term peace and stability.The consequences of the surge are continually debated and will probably be debated until history becomes tired of the word. A large body of opinion declares the surge decreased casualties, diminished the Iraq insurgency, brought stability to Baghdad and Basra, and assisted the Sunni Awakening movement to pacify Anbar province.
Another large body of opinion asserts the surge has not created a definite direction for ethnic and political reconciliation. Surge promoters (enterJohn McCain!) claim that political reconciliation will still take time and that the local pacifications due to the additional U.S. fighting forces have provided a breathing space and set the stage for the eventual reconciliations.
Unfortunately, the claim proceeds from an incomplete analysis. The surge has brought some stability to some areas, but that stability is only one aspect of the reconciliation process. Side effects of the surge have produced additional ethnic separations and sectarian manifestations, conditions which impede national reconciliation.
Former Iraq interim Prime Minister Dr. Ayad Allawi--a strong voice from Iraq's opposition to Saddam Hussein, a shadowy figure among intelligence agencies that distributed false reports about Hussein's nuclear weapons potential, and a leading figure of the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority--stressed at an on-the-record Carnegie Middle East Center meeting, July 25, 2008, that there can be no political stability without ethnic reconciliation and no reconciliation without a government that is non-sectarian. Reconciliation is a must and the only way, but comes from institutions that are constructed with a non-sectarian base." Dr. Allawi, who is a secular Shiite, also said that "if there is no political gain, there will be a reversal in the military gain."
Dr. Allawi's contentions that reconciliation is a must and the only way, but comes from institutions that are constructed with a non-sectarian base seems sensible, accurate and a pre-requisite for Iraq to become a successful state.