Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The September Petraeus Charade

If the Iraq war was winnable, we would have won by now.

The whole premise that we would be able to set up a client-state from scratch in that part of the world, and especially in a Shiite-majority nation, was wrong from the get-go.

The longstanding sectarian conflicts there were also not conducive to such an endeavor, and should have been an early danger sign.

And the harsh view from the Middle-East "street" of U.S. support for Israel's treatment of the Palestinians didn't (and doesn't) strengthen our odds of success in the Iraqi political sphere either.

The administration's game at this point is to drag things out and hope that our luck changes for the better. This is not a viable strategy.

The whole September Petraeus charade is to manipulate the public to accept White House claims of progress in Iraq. An objective appraisal of the situation belies these assertions.

The Bush administration's top two officials in Iraq answered questions from Congress for more than six hours on Monday, but their testimony may have been as important for what they didn't say as for what they did.

A chart displayed by Army Gen. David Petraeus that purported to show the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad between December and August made no effort to show that the ethnic character of many of the neighborhoods had changed in that same period from majority Sunni Muslim or mixed to majority Shiite Muslim.

Neither Petraeus nor U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker talked about the fact that since the troop surge began the pace by which Iraqis were abandoning their homes in search of safety had increased. They didn't mention that 86 percent of Iraqis who've fled their homes said they'd been targeted because of their sect, according to the International Organization for Migration.

While Petraeus stressed that civilian casualties were down over the last five weeks, he drew no connection between that statement and a chart he displayed that showed that the number of attacks rose during at least one of those weeks.

Petraeus also didn't highlight the fact that his charts showed that "ethno-sectarian" deaths in August, down from July, were still higher than in June, and he didn't explain why the greatest drop in such deaths, which peaked in December, occurred between January and February, before the surge began.

And while both officials said that the Iraqi security forces were improving, neither talked about how those forces had been infiltrated by militias, though Petraeus acknowledged that during 2006 some Iraqi security forces had participated in the ethnic violence.

Both officials said they believed that Iraq was on the path to potential success. Petraeus said that "the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met." Crocker was similarly optimistic: "In my judgment, the cumulative trajectory of political, economic and diplomatic developments in Iraq is upwards, although the slope of that line is not steep."

They both pleaded for more time, even as Petraeus said that the U.S. should begin pulling troops out, with the goal of being back to the pre-surge level of 130,000 troops by next July. Further reductions would be considered next spring, as conditions allow, he said.

Both men celebrated their plan's success in encouraging residents in once-restive Anbar province to work with U.S. troops against al Qaida in Iraq.

Petraeus conceded that that success didn't extend to Ninevah province, where progress "has been much more up and down." But he didn't say that many believe that al Qaida numbers increased there only after the surge began. Ninevah is where some of the largest bombings of the year occurred, including the attack on the Yazidis, which killed more than 300.

He also offered a tepid endorsement of the Iraqi security forces, at times saying that they were increasingly capable of defending Iraq, while conceding that they needed to show more progress.


Blogger Crazy Consultants said...

Hey there -
I'm curious to know what you think of this :

It's a quick trailer for a new documentary two DC-based journalists made after spending a year in Baghdad.

9/11/2007 10:03 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


Decent production values.

I have seen worse agitprop products.

9/11/2007 1:20 PM  
Blogger Meatball One said...


9/11/2007 3:13 PM  

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