Adding to the polling data that already exists , Rasmussen Reports released a poll reinforcing the fact that Americans largely don’t trust the upcoming Patraeus report, with only 39% believing that the report will actually reflect the general’s opinions on the situation on the ground.

Another curious thing about the Rasmussen poll is that it asks people if they think Patraeus will come back with good news or bad news, responders split, largely down party lines, over what they think will happen.  The problem with this being that there is no room for the middle ground that Bush & Co. must meet in order to get what they want.

General Patreaus threads the needle.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, has told President Bush that he wants to maintain heightened troop levels in Iraq well into next year to reduce the risk of military setbacks, but could accept the pullback of roughly 4,000 troops beginning in January, in part to assuage critics in Congress, according to senior administration and military officials.

General Petraeus’s view is considered overly cautious by some other senior military officials and some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. But they said it reflected his concern that the security gains made so far in Baghdad, Anbar Province and other areas were fragile and easily reversed.

In case you missed it, the conditions are good enough on the ground to say that there’s been some progress, and that the “surge” is working, but not good enough to have any appreciable drawdown of the troops.  In fact, 4000 is merely a fraction of the over 20,000 troop increase as a result of the surge strategy.  As pointed out in the article, it’s little more than a symbolic gesture.

Underlying this particular bit of political hocus pocus is the real truth, that there is precious little progress in Iraq, and what progress there is is little more than an illusion maintained by our furthered presence.  Still, sensing the political calamity about to befall his beloved war in Iraq, Bush has seen fit to game the public:

Yes, well at least we know how that one’s going to turn out.

Paul Krugman writing for Times Select (which is still a pay service, so I’m going to be doing a lot of quoting here) has a good piece up which details five things that Democrats need to keep in mind as we all hunker down to figure out what we are going to do next in this war.

First, no independent assessment has concluded that violence in Iraq is down. On the contrary, estimates based on morgue, hospital and police records suggest that the daily number of civilian deaths is almost twice its average pace from last year. And a recent assessment by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found no decline in the average number of daily attacks.

So how can the military be claiming otherwise? Apparently, the Pentagon has a double super secret formula that it uses to distinguish sectarian killings (bad) from other deaths (not important); according to press reports, all deaths from car bombs are excluded, and one intelligence analyst told The Washington Post that “if a bullet went through the back of the head, it’s sectarian. If it went through the front, it’s criminal.” So the number of dead is down, as long as you only count certain kinds of dead people.

Oh, and by the way: Baghdad is undergoing ethnic cleansing, with Shiite militias driving Sunnis out of much of the city. And guess what? When a Sunni enclave is eliminated and the death toll in that district falls because there’s nobody left to kill, that counts as progress by the Pentagon’s metric.

On this last point I want to expound a little further. This is one of the reasons why some of us are skeptical in regards to the Anbar Awakening which is rolling off the tongue of every war supporter out there. Anbar is a nearly homogenous Sunni area, which means that the successes there are not necessarily success against sectarian violence, nor can we expect the kind of success in the province to extend to regions that are torn apart by sectarian violence.

Further, the concept of ethnic cleansing should be seen as abject failure, not progress. This is because you are not solving the problem, merely relocating and postponing it. It is true that perhaps separating the various factions of Iraqi’s culture is the only realistic outcome in this conflict as professed by Senators Joe Biden and Sam Brownback, but what they speak of is doing it along established partitions or boundaries. By seperating the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis by actual state boundaries. In instances where populations are merely being driven out, it is ridiculous to think that this results in a permanent end situation. Moving on.

Second, Gen. Petraeus has a history of making wildly overoptimistic assessments of progress in Iraq that happen to be convenient for his political masters.

I’ve written before about the op-ed article Gen. Petraeus published six weeks before the 2004 election, claiming “tangible progress” in Iraq. Specifically, he declared that “Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt,” that “Iraqi leaders are stepping forward” and that “there has been progress in the effort to enable Iraqis to shoulder more of the load for their own security.” A year later, he declared that “there has been enormous progress with the Iraqi security forces.”

But now two more years have passed, and the independent commission of retired military officers appointed by Congress to assess Iraqi security forces has recommended that the national police force, which is riddled with corruption and sectarian influence, be disbanded, while Iraqi military forces “will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently over the next 12-18 months.”

Fair enough.

Third, any plan that depends on the White House recognizing reality is an idle fantasy. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, on Tuesday Mr. Bush told Australia’s deputy prime minister that “we’re kicking ass” in Iraq. Enough said.

This is perhaps the biggest one personally for me. I’ve said before that if Bush just came out and leveled with the American people and quit trying to game us on what’s going on in Iraq and what needed to be done, then I would probably not be so antagonistic in regards to his policies. But as it turns out, this will never ever ever happen… ever. It is almost as though this man is incapable of seeing reality. Half of my writings here seem to chronicle this fact alone.

Ultimately, my final assertion regarding this repository of fantasy is simply this; we can’t afford to trust a man to wage a war when he is unable to recognize, cope, and act upon reality. That’s it. That’s the message. No one can offer useful solutions at this time other than to catalogue that they exist because unless they fit Bush’s narrative, he will not take them into account.

He’s proven this… painfully often.

Fourth, the lesson of the past six years is that Republicans will accuse Democrats of being unpatriotic no matter what the Democrats do. Democrats gave Mr. Bush everything he wanted in 2002; their reward was an ad attacking Max Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, that featured images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Finally, the public hates this war and wants to see it ended. Voters are exasperated with the Democrats, not because they think Congressional leaders are too liberal, but because they don’t see Congress doing anything to stop the war.

All very true.

But there is one final part of the equation that Krugman neglects, and people do this all the time. That is the Republican support and veto power of the President that stands in the way of any Democratic success. At this point, it’s not the Democrats that need to be appealed… though they should be reminded once in a while. The people who really need to feel the pressure are the Republicans.

It is the GOP that needs to come to grips with the fact that they are the ones that are obstructing the will of the people, and in the case of a President who is willfully ignorant, woefully incompetent, and unable to grasp reality.

They are the ones in the thrall of their own failures, and it is they who still manage to hold the fate of this war, and this country in their hands. We need to put the pressure on them.

7 Responses to “4000”

  1. xranger says:

    Another bite that indicates we are not doing anything in Iraq:

    “At a recent ceremony, officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works and the Nasiriyah Governate Council gathered to mark the completion of the Nasiriyah Water Treatment Plant by opening the city connections at an elevated storage tank and allowing water to flow into the distribution network.

    The plant and distribution system will help provide clean water to more than 500,000 residents of Dhi Qar Province in southern Iraq serving five major communities in the province: Nasiriyah, Suq Ash Shuek, Al Diwaya, Al Shatra, and Al Gharraf.”


    But, hey, keep that negativety comin’. If we do pull out prematurely, and the worst scenario occurs in Iraq, invite me to your victory party.

  2. You’ll have to pardon me if we provide water to an extra 2.5% of the Iraqi population four years after we invaded Iraq. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but um… little late and small, no?

    And whoever said I wanted a victory party? You know me on this one, I mean we had the discussion.

    Here’s what I want:

    Cheney and Bush both impeached quickly and replaced with someone competent and willing to look at all of the intelligence and not that which fits their narrative.

    Presumably back out of Iraq, leaving a decent force possibly in Kuwait to jump in in the case of excessive genocide or soemthing.

    Let the Iraqi’s fix this problem themselves. That’s the short of it.

    We were essentially agreeing on this days ago. The continuing point I’ve been making is how the hell are we going to get any progress done when Bush continues to Ignore severely large portions of dissent?

  3. xranger says:

    Well, the project took a few years, since it was so extensive. I mean, that number of people is over 1-1/2 times the population of Pittsburgh.

    Cheney/Bush impeachment now is just silly talk.

    Backing out of Iraq right now, and leaving a small force in Kuwait, is unfeasible.

    How can anyone take people like Schumer seriously now, when he says that the US military is inferior? All the media has done is focus on Harry Reed and Schumer, undermining Petraeus before he even speaks to Congress.

  4. Well, there’s good reason to undermine Patraeus when you think it’s not going to be on the level, and I expect them to at least ask hard questions which is good, and what I think you would expect of any legislator asked to evaluate the performance of just about anything.

    Impeachment is only silly talk because legislators are unwilling to do it. That’s about it. I mean, did you know you can impeach people after they already left office? I think something should be done to this current administration if for no other reason than to serve as a message to future administrations that there are limits.

    Unfortunately, those limits have long since been passed without any kind of reproachment, and so that’s out the window I suppose.

    As for the military being inferior, look, I don’t defend Reid anymore. In fact one of my last posts about the man was me saying that I can’t shill for everything he does and says anymore. I think he’s a terrible Majority Leader, a fact that is evidenced by, among other things, the simple existence of caucus fractures within the party. One thing that has severely hurt the Dems is the inability of Reid to get them voting as a unit, something the GOP is excellent at doing.

    Instead, Reid’s MO appears to be talking tough, introducing tough legislation, but then not really working too terribly hard to get people to support it. So he can go toss for all I care.

    But when we talk about inferiority of the military. There’s a fundamental concept that goes much deeper here, and that’s how you believe the War on Terror ™ should be fought. This adminstration made it clear that it believed that you fight terrorist organizations not even sanctioned by a sovereign state with uniformed services.

    That’s a ludicrous idea, and it was that thinking that in part put us in the mess we’re currently in.

    You look at the logistics of what we are doing, and not just our military but no military is well suited towards the kind of conflict we see in Iraq today. To their credit, our soldiers have adopted and adapted concepts of urban warfare to the maximum extent possible, but this is not one army against another.

    Instead, this is a single uniformed army fighting essentially a fractured and militant citizenry. Based on the volatile social situation Iraq’s peoples are in, we’re talking about a scenario where one day someone could be a friendly, or at least a neutral, and the next they have you in the sights, and what’s the worst is that you will never know the difference.

    If Schumer and Reid are really saying the boots on the ground are inferior, I can’t condone, and would in fact condemn that kind of language…

    crap gotta go.

  5. xranger says:

    I don’t know how the Petraeus report was possited that it would not be on the level – everything I read by people who know him is how straightforward he is. My assumption is that its the Dem lynch mob that pollutes the water here.

    Congress has to ask the tough questions at the hearing.

  6. daveinboca says:

    Paul Krugman is Juan Cole without brains or local knowledge. It’s hard to take the latest Dhimmicrat salvos that “we’re losing, we’re losing and we have the statistics to prove it” as anything more than self-parody. The smart Democrats are discussing strategy while libtards such as Reid and Shumer do their Tweedledumb/dumber pas de deux.

    Ralph Peters has a good analysis, as does Michael Gordon, two observers with extensive published analysis and experience on the ground. They both concur that the inside-the-Beltway flimflammery by and among Democrats reflects their own tendency toward suicidal eating of their young.

    The liberal memes are so tired that Sen. Durbin has to come back from Iraq and after saying the surge is beginning to work, suddenly “change his mind” and say it isn’t working at all.

    Remember poor George Romney in the sixties who confessed that he had been brainwashed? At least GR had a brain to wash, most Democrats are “passionate, vibrant, robust” opponents of Iraq, until they go there. Then they recant for a minute, unless like IL dodette Schakovsky they are retarded imbecilic Marxists. And then, after what gray matter they have has been washed, laundered and folded by their political commissars & media minders, they unrecant.

    The Democrats keep alternating between stand-up comics and fall-down slapstick—-both very entertaining if very irrelevant.

  7. Um… was there a point buried in all that invective in there?

    Just wondering.


  1. So NOW He’s Listening » Comments From Left Field - [...] The number of troops to be withdrawn is uncertain, but given that Patreaus predicts the necessity of the surge…

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