Anatomy of the Surge
By Peter D. Feaver (Duke University; Triangle Institute for Security Studies)
In this superb review of the recent evolution of American strategy in Iraq, Professor Peter Feaver provides readers an insider's view of the National Security Council, where he served on leave from Duke University from 2005 to 2007. Though much changed during that period, the Bush administration's goals for Iraq, he writes, did not: "a democratic Iraq that can defend itself, govern itself, and sustain itself, and ... be an ally in the war on terror."
The American strategy in early 2005, Feaver tells readers, emphasized raising and training capable Iraqi forces, writing an Iraqi constitution, and electing a national government. Some skeptics, such as John McCain, called for more troops, but leading Democrats called for accelerating what was, in fact, the administration's strategy, issued in the fall as the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq (NSVI). Hopes for a bipartisan strategy collapsed in November 2005, however, when Congressman John Murtha demanded the removal of all U.S. troops within six months, which energized the left wing of his party.
During 2006, the NSVI slowly collapsed, aided by delay in forming the new Iraqi government, an explosion of sectarian violence following Al Qaeda's destruction of Samarra's Golden Dome--one of Shia Islam's holiest sites--and shortcomings in Iraqi security forces. Not...