Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Why the Surge Became a Gift to the Taliban

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Why the Surge Became a Gift to the Taliban

The surge is a pullulating, throbbing, testosterone-exploding success. That's the verdict of the U.S. military and mandarin minds who have declared that the temporary addition of thousands of troops to the battle in Iraq has got the enemy on the run. The same dreamboats, or nightmare carriers, attribute the surge to the drops in coalition deaths and violent incidents in Baghdad in particular, and other parts of Iraq. Why, even the nascent golden boy of U.S. politics, the new keeper of the keys to Camelot – or should that be shamalot? — Barack Obama changed his mind, so impressed was he with the surge. If ever you want a reason to doubt his intelligence, using both definitions of the word, this is the issue with which to challenge him and anyone else who is convinced the tactic worked. I would argue it was a dreadful, myopic failure. They are the same thinking and tactics that nailed shut the coffin of U.S. policies in Vietnam.

Incredibly, the combined brains of all of the above, perhaps addled by a few bongs of O they all publicly despise, have refused to learn from history. They cannot to see the reality sign staring at them straight between their Catherine wheel eyes.

Forces fighting the coalition have joined the Taliban and in this theatre, have got the coalition on the run, or at the very least, sprinting very hard on the spot. The insurgents in Iraq knew how and when to pick their fights. Using classic guerrilla methodologies, they chose not to engage a more powerful enemy on its terms. They had read the text book –unlike the lad and ladies in the U.S.and other forces – and simply moved from an area where they might be threatened to a battleground far more to their liking at the moment –Afghanistan.

Military experts (me) look with amazement at the coalition's utter bankruptcy in fighting a guerrilla war using conventional methods like air power, tanks, and infantry on search and destroy missions. It's as though the operation is being run by kids on their first day in training camp, not, in reality, by twenty-five star generals and fifteen-piece suit politicians who should, but manifestly don't, know any better.

As for Afghanistan, it has sucked the blood and willpower from invading armies for centuries, and will continue to do so, because the people of Afghanistan want it that way.

And Obama? Not looking quite the same now, is he?

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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John Scully

John Scully has been a journalist for almost fifty years and has covered stories in seventy countries for major international news and current affairs organizations. His book, Am I Dead Yet? A Journalist's Perspective on Terrorism, was published in spring 2008 by Fitzhenry and Whiteside.

Go to John Scully’s Author Page