Yesterday, I was listening to the radio, (transcript and recording) and heard Gen. David Petraeus (who’s acting as the President’s mouthpiece, not the Army’s) defending how well we’re doing in Iraq. There were a few interesting changes in the official administration line:
- The main source of our problems isn’t sectarian violence, it’s al Qaeda. News to me, and apparently news to US forces too; CIA director Michael Hayden recently listed them as the fifth biggest issue, behind the local insurgency, sectarian strife, criminality, and general anarchy. (Good CSM article here)
- He said that it’s far too soon to be asking for benchmarks about the “surge,” and that benchmarks aren’t that meaningful anyway, because the surge has only had one month to operate in so far. That’s odd; I recall the surge first being ordered this January, and the 30,000 additional troops were deployed in February. (Detailed order of battle; the new units were the 2nd BDE 82nd Airborne, 1st BDE 34th Infantry, 4th BDE 1st Infantry; they were followed by 3rd BDE 3rd Infantry in March, 4th Stryker BDE 2nd Infantry in April, 2nd BDE 3rd Infantry in May, as well as extension of deployments for various Marine units (including the 15th MEU), and deploying the USS Stennis group) So how exactly does that translate as only having had a month to prove it? (Answer: Because we said so. This administration has a disturbing tendency to make public statements that directly contradict their previous statements, and state that what they say now has always been their policy.)
- And in related amusement, Lt. Gen. Odierno gave an interesting briefing where he gave as evidence for how good things are in Baghdad that he walked a thousand meters there.
Just to get this straight: Several months after we deploy 30,000 additional troops and move troops from all of Iraq into Baghdad (and thus cede control of more land back to civil war and insurgency), a 3-star general visits (with all of the attendant security precautions), and with a full armed escort, can walk a full thousand meters on foot through the defended area without being shot. This constitutes a significant improvement in the conditions in Iraq and evidence that our strategy is working.
Working at what, exactly, I’m not sure, but it’s apparently working.
I think I need to start playing a game with the news reports. I call it, “Kafka or Orwell?”
Edit: Here, let’s play.