TAP hosts a roundtable on the importance of the surge.
There’s a fairly wide range of opinions there, mostly based on the [preset position] + “but who can say?” view of historical analysis.
I’ll add one notion, just for consideration. In my own experience as a poker player, and in my limited reading on the thinking of negotiators and military tacticians – none of which I’ll claim to be expert in – there’s a common tactic, the “bump”.
When I want to signal to other players that “I’m not going anywhere” it’s useful to do two things – buy more chips, and push some chips forward on the table. Similar signaling works in negotiation, and I’m confident that it works in military tactics as well.
Lots of Iraqis had to decide this year which side they were going to come down on. It seems obvious to me that the relative commitment of the US is one key factor that drove their thinking. If you’re confident that the US is short-timing, then siding with pro-US Iraqi factions probably seems like a path to a painful and bloody death. We sent a successful signal – both by being willing to remake our strategy and by raising troop levels, and that signal allowed people to make decisions feeling like they’re doing so with some promise of protection by our armed forces.
Somehow that seems obvious to me – am I missing something?