In a news conference which appeared to be primarily aimed at marshalling support for the proposed military escalation in Afghanistan, top Iraq commander General Ray Odierno credited the massive number of US troops on the ground for the “success” of the war in Iraq.
Manhunts against militant leaders were useful, Odierno insisted, but “you have to have both combined” and he insisted it had been crucial to have the 140,000+ ground troops in the nation, the vast majority of which still haven’t left.
Yet a study done over a year ago actually showed that the drop in violence in Iraq was chiefly a consequence of the massive sectarian violence having finally driven Sunnis or Shi’ites out of mixed neighborhoods and left the nation a patchwork of sectarian enclaves.
Despite this study, the official narrative continues to be that the Bush Administration’s military surge actually “won” the war, though somehow this claim has not resulted in any significant reductions of troops.
Though Gen. Odierno insisted that he wasn’t trying to speak to any strategy aims in Afghanistan, the conference seemed well timed to support General Stanley McChrystal’s call for 45,000 additional troops to fight the war in that nation, at a time when popular support for the seemingly endless wars has been falling rapidly.