Saturday, September 02, 2006

Iraq: Reality and Bush's Spin Again Disagree

During his years in office, nothing seems to have pleased George W. Bush more than strutting on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln in his famous 'Mission Accomplished' moment. Unfortunately, not only was it a moment of extraordinary hubris and blindness, it revealed what Bush cares about most: his image, the image of a winner. Whatever his strengths and flaws, Bush wanted to be a war president and quite obviously Afghanistan wasn't big enough for Bush's taste. Bush's personal philosophy of winning at any cost has no place on the national or world stage; the consequences have not been good for the United States.

The Pentagon has issued an important report and naturally Rumsfeld's staffers made sure it appeared on the Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, a manuever usually assured to make certain an important story disappears that the Bush Administration would rather forget. Julian E. Barnes of the Los Angeles Times has the story on the Pentagon report on Iraq:
Attacks and civilian deaths in Iraq have risen sharply in recent months, with casualties increasing by 1,000 a month, and sectarian violence has engulfed larger areas of the country, the Pentagon said Friday in a strikingly dismal report to Congress.

The quarterly report, based on new government figures, showed the number of attacks in Iraq over the last four months had increased 15% and Iraqi casualties had risen by 51%. Civilian and military deaths and injuries have surpassed 3,000 each month since May.

(snip)

Overall, the tone of the 63-page report is markedly less optimistic than previous quarterly assessments, which the Pentagon has been required to make since last year.

"This is a pretty sober report," said Peter Rodman, the assistant secretary of Defense for international security. "The last quarter has been rough. The level of violence is up. And the sectarian quality of the violence is particularly acute and disturbing."

The data and language of the report also contrasted with recent statements by administration officials who have been seeking to shore up sagging public support for the war.

Administration officials, for example, repeatedly have emphasized that recent violence has been concentrated in Baghdad. The new report notes that violence has increased in Diyala, Mosul and Kirkuk as the sectarian conflict has spread to those cities.

(snip)

[Rear Adm. William D.] Sullivan said he believed that despite the rise in killings, the U.S. was still making progress in the war.

Outside military analysts were more cautious.

Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said it was difficult to predict eventual victory or defeat in Iraq but the situation was growing bleaker.

"You could make the case for optimism in the past; you cannot now," said Cordesman, who has written extensively on Iraq.

The Pentagon's previous quarterly reports "were unrealistic in every dimension because they understated the insurgency, they grossly overstated economic progress, they were over-optimistic about political progress, and they never seriously addressed the threat of civil conflict," Cordesman said. "But this report has had to face reality."

Some time ago, an official of the Bush Administration bragged about their ability to 'create reality.' For the last five years, Bush, his advisers, and their friends in the media have given the American people a constant barrage of photo ops, right wing nonsense and spin. If the Democrats manage to take a house, the first order of business has to be to find out the real state of oury nation and that includes our involvement in Iraq. "Staying the course" and doing the same things over and over, and using the same flawed ideological assumptions about the world is no longer an option.

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