Let's make this clear. We never should have been in Iraq. It was a war of choice. The Surge was made possible only because George W. Bush and his administration decided, as it were, to set Iraq on fire.
But as long as we're talking about The Surge, let me make this clear too: The Surge was not the primary factor behind the decline of violence in Iraq. Here's why.
As I posted in March 2008 the decline in violence in Iraq was a product of four developments, none of which had anything to to do with The Surge.
1. Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's August 2007 cease-fire.
2. The Anbar Awakening, which began in Sept. 2006 (in essence the Sunni's began saying no to Al Qaeda).
3. The physical separation (which included barrier walls) of Shi'a and Sunnis right before The Surge.
4. The Low-Hanging Fruit of Death were gone. Shi'a & Sunnis, tired of surprise murders, had moved out of previously "integrated" neighborhoods by August 2007.
To be sure, The Surge helped solidify and reemphasize the gains that came from these developments. But this makes The Surge a "supporting" rather than determining factor for Iraq's decline in violence.
More importantly, “the surge worked” crowd (conveniently) ignores that The Surge was designed to provide stability for national reconciliation so that specific political benchmarks could be met. The key here is that while a degree of security and stability has been achieved, violence still plagues Iraq, sectarian divisions continue, while the larger goals of national reconciliation and certain political benchmarks have only been partially met.
Still, to think that The Surge makes George W. Bush a hero, who should be thanked for his military genius, is akin to saying arsonists should be thanked for calling 911 on themselves. Would you give them a parade?
Finally, the "We should thank George W. Bush" crowd miss a fundamental point about our nation's war of choice. We spent over $700 billion (interest not tacked on), saw our national prestige decline, had 31,926 U.S. soldiers returned who were injured or maimed (20% of which are serious brain or spinal injuries), and lost over 4,400 U.S. soldiers to the war in Iraq ...
Should we thank George W. Bush for this too?