The surge is playing out exactly as the Baker-Hamilton Commission said it would. The "progess" in Iraq is ephemeral, if not cosmetic. As the Commission, also known as the Iraq Study Group, warned us:
"Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq, which is the absence of national reconciliation. A senior American general told us that adding U.S. troops might temporarily help limit violence in a highly localized area. However, past experience indicates that the violence would simply rekindle as soon as U.S. forces are moved to another area. As another American general told us, if the Iraqi government does not make political progress, 'all the troops in the world will not provide security.' Meanwhile, America's military capacity is stretched thin: we do not have the troops or equipment to make a substantial, sustained increase in our troop presence. Increased deployments to Iraq would also necessarily hamper our ability to provide adequate resources for our efforts in Afghanistan or respond to crises around the world."
McCain, who rejected the recommendations of the the Iraq Study Group in favor of Bush's surge, continues to conflate the different warring factions into a single "enemy" acting on behalf of Iran. As his mouthpiece, Lindsay Graham, said yesterday on Fox News,
"I applaud the Maliki government for taking on Iranian-backed militia... The Iranians are killing Americans. They've aligned themselves with the Shia Mahdi army. The Badr Brigade is not the problem."
The Badr Brigade dominates Iraqi security forces so, in Graham's oversimplified view of things, the Badr Brigade is acting on behalf of the government, backed up by U.S. forces, so the Badr Brigade is not the problem.
And again, the Iraq Study Group offered a reality check which McCain and the mainstream media chose to ignore:
"The Badr Brigade is affiliated with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. The Badr Brigade has long-standing ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Many Badr members have become integrated into the Iraqi police, and others play policing roles in southern Iraqi cities. While wearing the uniform of the security services, Badr fighters have targeted Sunni Arab civilians. Badr fighters have also clashed with the Mahdi Army, particularly in southern Iraq."
What lessons have Graham, McCain, Graham, Bush and all the other neocon apologists learned after five years in Iraq? Almost none.