Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2009

What NATO can learn from "the surge" in Iraq

Christopher M. Schnaubelt

October 2008

NATO Defense College


What a difference 30,000 additional troops and a new strategy make. A few years ago, Afghanistan was commonly viewed as the model of a successful intervention while many politicians, military analysts, and pundits believed that the war in Iraq was being irretrievably lost. Yet today— although conditions still have a long way to go before normalcy has been achieved—the progress in Iraq following “the surge” directed by President Bush in January 2007 is widely recognized. All the indicators of violence: attacks against Iraqi infrastructure and government organizations; small arms, mortar and rocket attacks, and casualties among Iraqi civilians, Iraqi Security Forces, and Coalition Forces have sharply declined since July 2007. The situation has gone from being generally perceived as on the brink of disaster to being a success story (albeit belated and costly).