Six months after the surge was actually launched, in mid- February, it has failed as dismally as so many First World War offensives. The US Defense Department says that, this June, the average number of attacks on US and Iraqi forces, civilian forces and infrastructure peaked at 177.8 per day, higher than in any month since the end of May 2003. The US has failed to gain control of Baghdad. The harvest of bodies picked up every morning first fell and then rose again. This may be because the Mehdi Army militia, who provided most of the Shia death squads, was stood down by Sadr. Nobody in Baghdad has much doubt that they could be back in business any time they want. Whatever Bush might say, the US military commanders in Iraq clearly did not want to take on the Mehdi Army and the Shia community when they were barely holding their own against the Sunni.
The surge is now joining a host of discredited formulae for success and fake turning-points that the US (with the UK tripping along behind) has promoted in Iraq over the past 52 months. In December 2003, there was the capture of Saddam Hussein. Six months later, in June 2004, there was the return of sovereignty to Iraq. “Let freedom reign,” said Bush in a highly publicised response. And yet the present Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, claims he cannot move a company of soldiers without American permission.