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Do Surges Work?

Author: Rachel Schneller, International Affairs Fellow
Volume 30, Number 1, Winter-Spring 2010
Sais Review


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From September 2005 to August 2006, I was a U.S. diplomat in a tiny regional office in Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq located in the far south, a stone's throw from Iran. Our office was in a compound known as "The Palace," surrounded by high cement walls topped with barbed wire, under the protection of the British military. My counterparts from the British Foreign Office, located in the same compound, operated according to the belief that the best approach to counter insurgency activity in Iraq was to take a "handsoff" approach and let Iraqis sort themselves out without getting involved in the complex situation. The British perspective, undoubtedly colored by their experience in Northern Ireland, where the presence of soldiers on the streets inflamed the local population, ran counter to the beliefs of the Iraqis I talked to: hundreds of politicians, government...

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