A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Petraeus Speaks

The Washington Post has published an article by William Branigin in which he reports the contents of a letter by Petraeus to the troops without any fact checking or analysis whatsoever. Apparently, this is called "journalism." Let's look at the highlights.
U.S. forces have achieved generally encouraging, though "uneven," results in an offensive aimed at shoring up security in Iraq, but Iraqi leaders have failed to make satisfactory progress on the political reconciliation the military effort was designed to facilitate, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq told his troops in a letter today.
Hmm...it seems that the surge is going well, but it's going to take some more time. Who could have ever predicted that? Of course, Patraeus won't be writing the report himself, it'll be written by the White House. Three guesses as to what it will say, and the first two don't count. But I digress.
Cautioning that "innumerable tasks remain and much hard work lies ahead," he offered a football analogy: "We are, in short, a long way from the goal line, but we do have the ball and we are driving down the field."
So we'll probably have to keep "surging" for at least another six to nine months. Just like they said six months ago. And six months before that. And six months before that. And six months before that. But this time they really mean it!
He said sectarian violence "continues to cause death and displacement in Baghdad and elsewhere," although at "considerably reduced levels" from eight months ago. He cited a decline in the number of attacks across Iraq in eight of the previous 11 weeks, saying they had dropped to a level in the last week of August not seen since June 2006.
For some reason, this claim doesn't seem to fit the facts. It probably stems from the new method for discerning the difference between insurgency and criminal killings: "If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian. If it went through the front, it's criminal." So, how do they count it if an insurgent was facing the person who shot them? That would make for a lot of criminal G.I.s.

That leads me to another question: how do they distinguish between civilian and insurgent kills? Or is everyone killed in an air raid an insurgent by default?
"However, the overall trajectory has been encouraging, especially when compared to the height of the sectarian violence in late 2006 and early 2007," he wrote.
Especially when you consider how many insurgents die while facing the person they're trying to kill. Of course, the number of troops that have died so far this year is higher than it was last year, leading to an overall count that's climbing toward 4,000 (for some reason we never hear about the number of soldiers wounded, just the ones who have died). I'm sure that's progress too, considering how many more troops we've put in the line of fire.
The general wrote in conclusion, "I will go before Congress conscious of the strain on our forces, the sacrifices that you and your families are making, the gains we have made in Iraq, the challenges that remain, and the importance of building on what we and our Iraqi counterparts have fought so hard to achieve."
So, in summary, the Surge is working but it needs more time to work. All of the things that haven't worked out are no fault of our own, so we need to stay longer to make them work. The strain of this action means they might authorize the withdrawal of one brigade, approximately 4,000 out of the 30,000 troops currently fighting for oil democracy in Iraq. That's mighty generous of him.

Tell me again why we aren't rioting in the streets?

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