Is the Surge a Success?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

By this time next week, we'll know what General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker have to say to Congress - their testimony begins on Monday, September 10th, before a joint meeting of the House Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees. The next day, they appear before the counterpart committees in the Senate (I just came out of a meeting to plan coverage - what do we carry live, do we offer a produced, one hour "wrap" of the days events in the evening... how do we co-ordinate coverage with other shows, etc).
But at least the outlines of the presentations to Congress and the formal report required by September 15th are already clear - the General and the administration will argue that there's been some important success militarily, and that while political progress may not be all we might hope, it would be foolish to risk hard-won gains by starting to withdraw American forces and redefining the US role in Iraq. Critics, of course, will focus on the lack of political progress - wasn't the point of the effort to provide a breathing space for politics to move ahead? - on the ephemeral nature of reported military gains, the continued, bloody toll on all sides, the enormous expense, and the opinion polls.
Today, we'll try to answer your questions a week ahead of the testimony - our guests are Jack Keane, a retired four star general and an adviser to General Petraeus, and military expert Anthony Cordesman, an independent analyst who's been critical of administration policy.
Whether you're a skeptic, a believer, or just confused, we need your questions - how do we measure progress? How are we doing against al-Qaida in Iraq? How real is the change of heart by Sunni tribes in Anbar province? Is it possible the US is arming and training both sides for a civil war yet to come? Does any of this matter if the Iraqi government is dysfunctional? What about fighting among the Shiia?

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Where does Gen keane get his numbers (which iraqi dead are included and excluded?) The NYTIMES has a much different picture of what is happening:

2500 iraqi civilians dead per month
daily attacks down by only 25%
us fatalities up--iraqi security force casualities down etc.

Are we getting another sales job here?

what is Talk of the Nation doing having the architect of the surge "assess" it? Do you think he is going to say it is a failure?

this is more of the same--the same as to the run up to the war--where is a real critic of the surge?

why is your show complicit???

Sent by Jack DeWitt | 2:34 PM | 9-4-2007

The whole context of today's discussion is perverse. The host and your "experts" like Cordesman all examine the issue of whether or not the U.S. should be in Iraq from the Machiavellian standpoint of "success," i.e., success of military/political conquest. By that definition, there was nothing wrong with the European subjugation of Native Americans, etc. -- might makes right. Why does NPR persist in calling on these "experts" who've been so wrong about the war all along, rather than elevate to true "expert" status anti-war activists who opposed this war before it even started, and not just on the dubious grounds of military success or failure.

Sent by Andy Thayer | 2:41 PM | 9-4-2007

That lopsided assessment was shameful--it reminded me of pre-war coverage from NPR. Is it worth mentioning that Keane sits on the board of General Dynamics, the sixth largest defense contractor in the world, and therefore has a conflict of interest when it comes to stating anecdotal stories that the surge is "working"? Why not press him further on the fact that civilian casualties are up since the surge began. What, then, is his metric for success? Would it have hurt to put up a critic of the surge as the nation is seriously debating this issue? How about quoting Maliki himself when he said US forces need to 1) Show restraint (read--you are making more enemies with heavy handed tactics) 2) Can leave at the end of THIS YEAR and his country will not suffer for it. For shame, for shame, NPR. We expect news, not the propagation of convenient narratives, be they true or not.

Sent by Dante Zappala | 2:59 PM | 9-4-2007

The whole idea of whether or not the "surge" is working is really silly. "Success", by admission of the incompetants who got us into this mess, is a "stable, democratic Iraq that is not a base for Al Qaida but an ally on the War on Terror." So the question becomes is that a goal that has the remotest chance of coming about.

The truth is that since Mr Bush and his handlers launched this war more, not less, muslims consider the US an enemy, not an ally. More, not less, young muslim men and women are willing to give their lives to take ours, more, not less, nations have been willing to challenge us on any number of issues, Al Qaida has gotten stronger not weaker and the international stage has gotten more dangerous, not less. So where is the success or signs of success? The way the Bushite's have glombbed onto these "tribal sheiks" as the one and only sign of "progress" is only somewhat less pathetic than their talk of the need for "patience". As if we have not spent 4 1/2 years, 600 billion dollars and almost 4000 lives and netted a wreck of a country where people are leaving in droves and you cannot get a light bulb to work.

We will only have success when all the idiots who got us where we are today are out of power and the war profiteers have been brought to justice.

Sent by George from Oregon | 4:01 PM | 9-4-2007

I'm so sad that this debate about continuing the war in Iraq will not actually be debated. It's being spun. Will TOTN give equal coverage to the voices opposed to the surge? My mother, a Gold Star Mother, and I, made a video to respond to Ari Fleischer's propaganda campaign. With no press, it's a youtube top rated video. How about it, Neal? Will you have us on your show? Can America hear at least the perspective of those who have lost forever the cherished people in their lives, lost them to a war of choice, a war of negligence, a war of continuing, shameless distortions?

Sent by Dante Zappala | 11:52 AM | 9-5-2007

George from Oregon:
"RIGHTON!" as they used to say.

Sent by Ben Andrews | 2:38 PM | 9-5-2007