On the PBS NewsHour last night, AEI scholar Fred Kagan (one of the main architects of the surge strategy, though he was not identified as such by host Jim Lehrer) made a startling assertion about the situation on the ground in Iraq:
Well, there’s a magnificent myth out there…that there are no mixed areas in Iraq anymore and that the cleansing is completed. … Now, [these neighborhoods] are more consolidated than they had been before, certainly.
In August 2007, the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization indicated that “the total number of internally displaced Iraqis [had] more than doubled, to 1.1 million from 499,000″ since the surge started in February. Center for American Progress Iraq analyst Brian Katulis estimated that Baghdad, which once used to be a 65 percent Sunni majority city, “is now 75 percent Shia.”
In December, the Washington Post published a map comparing the sectarian distribution of Baghdad’s neighborhoods in April 2006 and November 2007, showing the transformation of the city that has resulted from Iraq’s civil war.
In an article challenging the claims of “success” that flow incessantly from war supporters like Fred Kagan, journalist Patrick Cockburn writes that “for millions of Iraqis…the war has robbed them of their homes, their jobs and often their lives. It has brought them nothing but misery and ended their hopes of happiness. It has destroyed Iraq.”
But surely those Iraqis who have lost homes and loved ones to the sectarian violence will be happy to know that they haven’t been “cleansed,” but only “consolidated.”