With the passage of time, President Bush's decision to champion a new counterinsurgency strategy, including sending 30,000 additional troops to Iraq when most Americans were bone-weary of the war, will be seen as one of the most impressive and important acts of political courage in our lifetime. And those who fiercely opposed the so-called surge were not only wrong in their judgment; in some instances their actions were shameful ~ Peter Wehner, former bush speechwriter (and butt kisser), revising the bush legacy.
You were probably unaware that the Petraeus Iraq surge failed. The reason being that the Con propaganda campaign has largely been a success. Even our President (the current one, not the "courageous" unelected war criminal), has been taken in by the Con disinformation exemplified by the factually inaccurate Peter Wehner quote. Even though he originally criticized the surge, correctly stating, "the surge is not working", now, according to General Petraeus, "President Barack Obama acknowledged that the troop surge in the Iraq war was a success". Sadly this erroneous conclusion was cited "during deliberations over whether to enact a troop surge in Afghanistan".
According to Robert Woodward's book, "The War Within", the decline in violence can be attributed to three factors (none of which is an increase in US troop strength). First, "the Sunni rejection of al-Qaeda extremists in Anbar province". This was the so-called "Sunni Awakening", and it isn't that big of a surprise that they "laid down their arms against coalition forces, patroled neighborhoods, and fought against other Sunni insurgents", since we paid them to do these things (although some of the Sunni militia decided two monthly paychecks were better than one, and "moonlighted" with the insurgency).
The other two factors contributing to the decline in violence, according to Woodward's book, were "the surprise decision of al-Sadr to order a ceasefire", and "the use of new highly classified U.S. intelligence tactics that allowed for rapid targeting and killing of insurgent leaders". (This information is from the 6/29/2010 article "Gen. Petraeus and the Surge Myth by investigative journalist Robert Parry. See also "Iraq War troop surge of 2007: Opposition", on Wikipedia).
There is also the fact that a civil war was fought in Iraq, unlike in Afghanistan. The Shia and Sunni were fighting and killing each other, and so had less resources to devote to fighting and killing American troops. But when then Senator Biden suggested dividing Iraq into a loose federation of three ethnic states, thus quelling the sectarian violence, the bush administration (and Iraq's majority Shia government) rejected a partitioning of the country, deciding to allow the bloodbath to continue. The level of violence went down because the numerically superior Shia (55% of Iraq's population versus 18.5% Sunni) eventually either killed or displaced enough of their enemies to effectively win the war.
More than 1.3 million Iraqis have lost their lives since the start of the war. 4.7 million Iraqis lost or were forced to flee their homes (16% of the population). What portion of each of these estimates can be attributed to the US invasion and what portion can be attributed to the civil war isn't known, as the bushies certainly had no motivation to look into the matter.
The majority Shia government rejected partitioning because they deemed that it was payback time for their former Sunni oppressors. Under Saddam Hussein's Baathist dictatorship, which was Sunni-led, the Shia and Kurds were mercilessly persecuted. The Saddam regime also convinced their fellow Sunnis that they were not a minority - which explains why, when the US sponsored elections resulted in the Sunni netting "only a modest minority of seats", many Sunnis suspected fraud. This suspicion became one of the primary forces that fueled the insurgency. (They also overwhelmingly rejected the new Iraq constitution).
The bush administration knew that a civil war would produce an eventual victor, and then they could claim success when the violence decreased. Which explains why they worked so hard to deny one was taking place. This course of action resulted in a high of 3000 murders per month (according to a 2007 report issued by retired US Army General Barry McCaffre) - but the price was deemed quite acceptable. My opinion is that the bushies believed that if Iraqi ragheads wanted to kill each other there is no reason they should not allow it to happen, especially when the result was to make the war effort appear to be going better than it was.
An article published by "The Economist" on 6/17/2010 reports, "sectarian animosity still prevails", and that "Iraq's fledgling democracy remains frighteningly fragile" due to there being "little sign of a genuine cross-sectarian consensus". Despite these facts victory has been declared in Iraq, news coverage has dropped to virtually nill, and focus has shifted to the other war. The ouster of McChrystal and the installation of Petraeus led John Arquilla of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey CA to remark, "It's kind of sad and ironic that the fall of McChrystal will result in the reaffirmation of a highly problematic strategy".
On Friday 7/2/2010 (a day after General Petraeus won Senate confirmation) the House approved $37 billion in Afghan war spending and a 30,000 troop surge. Both the President and Congress are still fully behind the war, even though a poll in March revealed that "American support for the war in Afghanistan has ebbed to a new low", with "42% of respondents saying the United States made a mistake in sending military forces to Afghanistan" (Americans who considered the war a mistake was only 6% in January of 2002).
The President, who, on 12/1/2009 explained to the American people that we would give the war one last shot, and then begin a draw down in July 2011 (with a goal of withdrawing most U.S. forces by January 2013), is now walking back that promise, calling people who keep bringing up the draw down date "obsessed", and insisting "his focus is on making sure the mission there is successful".
Translation? The withdraw will be delayed to allow the new commander a chance to achive results. Even though the strategy isn't changing. How many more US soldiers will lose their lives or their limbs, and how many more billions will be wasted (money which could be used here to improve our economy) before Congress pulls funding and forces an end to this debacle? The Karzai government is corrupt. Accepting the results of Afghanistan's last "election" was the final nail in the coffin. If we ever had a chance of successfully completing the mission, any possibility of that happening ended when we allowed the former Unicol (Union Oil Company of California) consultant to steal the Afghan presidency.
The bushies hand picked Hamid Karzai to be Afghanistan's figurehead, installing him so that he could approve the proposed Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (The pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India).
Following the 8/20/2009 elections in Afghanistan, former President Jimmy Carter announced, "Hamid Karzai has stolen the election", and that "now the question is whether he gets away with it". (Incidentally, Mr. Carter was also right about the Petraeus Iraq surge, correctly noting that "it wasn't the surge of American troops that had caused an increase in calm, but General David Petraeus' willingness to pay bribes and pay Iraqi soldiers").
There were some brief grumblings from the Obama administration regarding the legitimacy of the Afghan elections, but in the end Karzai was allowed to get away with it. I'm positive that if bush were still in power the election would have been heralded as a victory for democracy and the Afghan people - the same purple-finger nonsense they pulled in Iraq. The Obama Administration, knowing that contesting the election would be very bad for the war effort, stopped it's grumbling, and instead congratulated Karzai on "winning" a second term. President Obama, while visiting the country, told Karzai "Although the process was messy, I'm pleased to say that the final outcome was determined in accordance with Afghan law".
Unfortunately Obama's proclamation was complete baloney. He knows the election was stolen. The American people and the Afghan people also know that Karzai's win was illegitimate (Karzai has been president since being "chosen" as interim president in 2002, served one five year term beginning in 2004, but will be ineligible to run again in 2014 due to term limits). How in the hell can we expect to win Afghan hearts and minds when they see our government give it's blessing to a corrupt administration's theft of it's supposedly democratic election?!
President Karzai (who says the US has undermined his legitimacy with the ballot stuffing allegations, even though they were made by independent monitors) is seeking to make his "own deal with the Taliban and the country's archrival, Pakistan, the Taliban's longtime supporter". A 6/11/2010 story in the New York Times reports that, when presented of evidence that the Taliban were behind a "spectacular rocket attack on a nationwide peace conference earlier this month", president Karzai said "he believed the Taliban were not responsible" and then suggested that Americans were behind the attack.
58% of Americans favor a timetable for withdrawl of US troops. 73% of Afghans opposed the Obama surge (according to a 2009 poll). The Taliban are united in their opposition to our military (unlike, as I pointed out earlier, there being multiple factions fighting each other). And the corrupt Karzai government is seeking to make deals with the Taliban and "blocking corruption probes [regarding the theft of] huge amounts of foreign aid" (a 6/30/2010 Huffington Post article alleges that "Afghan powerbrokers are moving millions of dollars out of the country").
Karzai will use the money he has stolen from the US, the proceeds from the Unicol pipeline (what this war was really all about in the first place), and eventually, the estimated 1 trillion in mineral wealth to create a "coalition government" by bribing the Taliban, cementing the country's status as a criminal and oppressive oligarchy. Foreign corporations will move in to build the pipeline and extract Afghanistan's mineral wealth. The rich will get richer, the corrupt will retain power, and the poor of Afghanistan will remain poor and oppressed. Mission accomplished. BTW, these things will happen regardless of when we pull out.
Continuing on this path is complete insanity. We either need to begin an orderly withdrawal as soon as possible, or come up with a plan for a negotiated peace. This isn't ideal solution, especially with Karazi still in charge for at least another 4 and a half years. I don't think it matters, as this war was lost some time ago (certainly before Obama's surge). That is, if it was ever winnable. Unfortunately, with the Republicans set to gain seats in the upcoming election, the prospect of a draw down anytime soon is looking quite dim.
 Petraeus: We Are In This To Win in Afghanistan by Deb Richman, AP 7/4/2010.
 Is Karzai punking Obama, yet again? by Laurence Lewis, The Daily Kos 6/11/2010.
 Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Bush Oil Team by Wayne Madsen, Democrats.com 1/2002.
7/6/2015 Update: The Libertarian blogger Willis Hart asks "if the surge was so damned successful, then why did it all come apart as soon as we took our finger out of the dike". Answer: gwb (and John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Joe Lieberman and anyone else who claims the surge was a success) were/are lying.