Thursday, July 12, 2007

CIA Calling Earth: We Cannot Fix Iraq

"CIA Said Instability Seemed 'Irreversible'"

Here is your real Iraq progress report. I don't know why anyone would bother reading the White House's latest propaganda on it instead of the CIA's realistic assessment.

There simply wasn't any realistic chance of a successful reconstruction of Iraq without going in with at least a third of a million troops in the first place, as General Shinseki candidly and knowledgeably informed us. (History will remember Eric Shinseki as a rare and brave voice of reason who was tragically ignored and punished.) Since fairly early after the invasion, it has become impossible for us to fix Iraq, given how the occupation has steadily made conditions in Iraq ever more tragically difficult to resolve while bleeding our treasury and steadily wearing down our military readiness. Even the current "surge" is horribly misnamed, both as a euphamism for escalation that no self-respecting journalist should have accepted, and even moreso as an exaggeration of what is actually a "trickle"; even its proponents insisted in the first place that it would have to be many times its actual size to succeed.

Nick Kristof has a nice post on this: ‘Inspiring Progress’ on Iraq?

As we debate what to do in Iraq, here are two facts to bear in mind:

First, a poll this spring of Iraqis — who know their country much better than we do — shows that only 21 percent think that the U.S. troop presence improves security in Iraq, while 69 percent think it is making security worse.

Second, the average cost of posting a single U.S. soldier in Iraq has risen to $390,000 per year, according to a new study by the Congressional Research Service. This fiscal year alone, Iraq will cost us $135 billion, which amounts to a bit more than a quarter-million dollars per minute.

... That poll of Iraqis, conducted by the BBC and other news organizations, found that only 22 percent of Iraqis support the presence of coalition troops in Iraq, down from 32 percent in 2005.

If Iraqis were pleading with us to stay and quell the violence, maybe we would have a moral responsibility to stay. But when Iraqis are begging us to leave, and saying that we are making things worse, then it’s remarkably presumptuous to overrule their wishes and stay indefinitely because, as President Bush termed it in his speech on Tuesday, “it is necessary work.”

...It’s nice that Mr. Bush is still confident about Iraq, telling us on Tuesday: “I strongly believe that we will prevail.”

Apparently, we’re doing almost as well today as we were in October 2003 when he blamed journalists for filtering out the good news and declared: “We’re making really good progress.”

Then in September 2004, Mr. Bush assured us that Iraq was “making steady progress.” In April 2005: “We’re making good progress in Iraq.” In October 2005: “Iraq has made incredible political progress.” In November 2005: “Iraqis are making inspiring progress.”

Do we really want to continue making this kind of inspiring progress for the next 10 years?

One of the great underacknowledged factors with Iraq is the distinction between the extremist terrorists, and the militias who are animated largely by rejecting the American occupation and/or defending their own groups from each other. Bush's rhetoric notwithstanding, evidence indicates the latter groups make up by far the majority of all Iraqi combatants. Those are people who might be more likely to settle down and approach a political compromise if the U.S. was gone. Meanwhile, the actual extremists have no capacity for political compromise under any circumstances, and are not going to be mollified by any amount of political progress by the Iraqi government. In that light, the stated rationale for the "surge", to provide breathing space for the Iraqi government to make political progress, looks pretty counterproductive.

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