A Divergence Of Perspective

Ah yes, here we go.  Almost a month ago I called it; all of this rigamarole over the September progress reports, and not a single soul actually paying attention would be shocked at the outcome.  Welp, here we are, a day before the anniversary of the terrorist attacks leveled upon us by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda, and it would seem our prognostications have turned out correct.

Patraeus wants at least another six months before even deciding on whether to pull out more than just a token 4000 troops to keep the wary public at bay.

On one hand, I want to thank the Bush administration, assisted by General Patraeus, for making me look as though I’m psychic.  On the other hand, I’m a little miffed, I mean, why the hell put us through all of this?  Why not just declare this a dictatorship and run off and do your own thing?

Oh, right, politics.  The whole point of this exhaustive excercise was clear from the inception.  Much earlier this year, public support for the war in Iraq had taken a drastic turn for the worse, leading to a meeting between Bush and eleven members of his party:

[O]ne said “My district is prepared for defeat. We need candor, we need honesty, Mr. President.” The president responded, “I don’t want to pass this off to another president. I don’t want to pass this off, particularly, to a Democratic president,” underscoring he understood how serious the situation was.

Brian, the Republican congressman then went on to say, “The word about the war and its progress cannot come from the White House or even you, Mr. President. There is no longer any credibility. It has to come from Gen. Petraeus.” The meeting lasted an hour and 15 minutes and was, in the words of one, “remarkable for the bluntness and no-holds-barred honesty in the message delivered by all these Republican congressmen.”

Something had to be done.  And so here we are, the entire fate of the Iraq War hanging on the outcome of a report by General David Patraeus in regards to the situation on the ground, and whether it’s time to pull troops or not.  Unfortunately, such an event was destined to become not an honest settling with the American people, but an act of kabuki theater, one in which Patraeus was tasked with painting a picture of Iraq that was notso rosy that we had no excuse to keep troops there any longer, but not so gloomy that Americans were confirmed in their suspicion that Iraq was a lost cause, and therefore not worth keeping our military presence tied up with.

This resulted in a mass skepticism, as Bush’s lack of credibility seems to taint everyone with whom he comes in contact.  As the GTL points out, not long ago a poll was released showing that Americans were highly distrustful of the report to come, many, believing that progress in Iraq would be exaggerated in order to help the President maintain his policy in Iraq.

But at this point, I’m sure one would look at this divergence in perspective and ask the question, who knows more?  Americans watching their evening news, or the General in command of the forces over there?

Good point, so let’s move on to probably an even more important perspective than either of them… The Iraqis themselves.

According to the BBC, 70% of Iraqis feel not just that the surge isn’t working, but that since its inception, security has actually WORSENED.  Gosh, that’s not good.  But at least they see us over there with our sleeves rolled up and willing to help, right?  They at least appreciate the effort?  Please?

The survey by the BBC, ABC News and NHK of more than 2,000 people across Iraq also suggests that nearly 60% see attacks on US-led forces as justified.

This rises to 93% among Sunni Muslims compared to 50% for Shia.

Shit.  93% for Sunnis?  But… But… What about Anbar?  That’s mostly Sunni, right?  We helped them out there, didn’t we?

Maybe, maybe not.  As I’ve maintained, the Anbar Awakening might not necessarily be all that it’s cracked up to be.  Keep in mind that this was for the most part a homogenously Sunni community.  Now, they were having some issue with AQI, and sure, there was a peace called between us and the Sunnis in order to oust AQI from the region, but on top of this success not necessarily being translatable throughout the country as a result of the uniform nature of the community at the time (thereby removing the sectarian influence from the mix), we are largely credited for the inception of AQI in the first place, so the whole deal might be a wash.

What might play into the fact that Sunnis don’t trust us, however, is the fact that from de-ba’athification day, to present, we’ve largely been supportive of Shia politicians, straight up to Minister Maliki, who seems absolutely impotent in regards to bringing all of the factions of Iraq to a peaceful understanding, and resulted in large swaths of the Sunni representation to leaving the government.

Meanwhile, on the ground where “bottom up” progress might occur, one thing that we are seeing in MIXED communities is ethnic cleansing, where Sunni Muslims are being ousted from their homes in Shiite communities. Not exactly something that one would look to as a good thing.

As for Patraeus, well, we haven’t fixed the problem yet, so let’s just keep on breaking it until he has to look at it again in the Spring, where I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest when he announces yet another token drawdown of troops (hey, maybe next time it’ll be 8000), but aside from that he’ll need another six months to tell if its working or not.

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