Thursday, June 14, 2007

 

Reporting on Iraq

Front page of today’s Washington Post: No Drop in Iraq Violence Seen Since Troop Buildup

“Three months into the new U.S. military strategy that has sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Iraq, overall levels of violence in the country have not decreased, as attacks have shifted away from Baghdad and Anbar, where American forces are concentrated, only to rise in most other provinces, according to a Pentagon report released yesterday.”

Damn, I thought…but then I remembered that this is the Post and, well, you know, ...unfortunately, amidst the numerous links provided in the Post article, there is not a link to the actual report. So here it is: Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq: June 2007

The report reminds us that the three months covered are the first three months of the inartfully-named “surge”:


“In support of the New Way Forward, Operation Fardh al-Qanoon2 (FAQ) was launched on February 14, 2007, with an increased emphasis on population security in Baghdad as its primary focus. Iraqi and Coalition forces have increased force levels and instituted new security measures to protect the population and improve the legitimacy of the Iraqi forces. Four of five planned additional U.S. Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) are currently in place; the fifth will be fully deployed and operational by late June 2007.”

Compare and Contrast:

The Post: “Iraqi leaders have made "little progress" on the overarching political goals that the stepped-up security operations are intended to help advance, the report said, calling reconciliation between Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni factions "a serious unfulfilled objective."

The Report: “Iraqi politicians continue to make little progress toward enacting laws that could advance reconciliation. In light of the urgent need to work on these laws, it is expected the CoR [Council of Representatives] will remain in session through the end of July.”

My comment: It has to be a uniquely Washington mindset that equates “enacting laws” with achieving “overarching political goals”.

The Post: “Indeed, "some analysts see a growing fragmentation of Iraq," it said, noting that 36 percent of Iraqis believe "the Iraqi people would be better off if the country were divided into three or more separate countries."

The Report:While some analysts see a growing fragmentation of Iraq, most Iraqis continue to believe that Iraq should remain a unified state.”

My comment: The Pentagon's report has a good visual on the breakdown across Iraq on the question of Iraq being divided into three countries. In other words, the Pentagon presented the story, the Post presented their slant on it.


The Post: “It cited "significant evidence" of attacks on Sunni Arabs by the predominantly Shiite government security forces, which have contributed to the displacement of an estimated 2 million Iraqis from their homes.”

The Report:There is also significant evidence of violence against Sunni Arabs, sometimes involving government security forces, that undermines reconciliation efforts and has contributed to the displacement of an estimated two million Iraqis from their homes.”

My comment: I think the word “sometimes” gives a whole different feel to the significance of the role of the government security forces in this.

The report makes clear, even if the Post doesn’t, that there is progress where our troops have been deployed despite the fact that our troops are not fully deployed. And this latest effort wasn’t sold as a quick-fix, which apparently a couple of people have forgotten:

“The report came as top congressional Democrats sent a letter to President Bush yesterday urging him to start a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"The escalation has failed to produce the intended results," wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.).”

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