War Story

Will the Surge Work Again?

In this week’s New Republic, Dexter Filkins takes a look back at Iraq and ahead to Afghanistan. Why did the surge work? “The chief reason for the new strategy's success was that all the American troops, not just the new ones, were deployed in a new and riskier way: directly into Iraqi neighborhoods, in small outposts,” Filkins writes. “This put American soldiers among the Iraqis, who for years had been reluctant to cooperate with the Americans for fear of being killed by insurgents after the Americans went back to their bases.” After eight years of neglect, President Obama seems determined to try to repeat Iraq’s successes in Afghanistan. “When American military officers launched the surge in Iraq, many of them were deeply skeptical about its chances for success. They tried it anyway, and it worked. And so in Afghanistan, too, we are going to try. But we must beware of facile analogies about surges and awakenings. It is a different world in South Asia. The war in Afghanistan is in its eighth year. Every day Pakistan lurches closer to collapse. Obama's proposals may be too late. Failure is always an option.”