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Friday, September 29, 2006

Bush Tries to Hide the Fact that Iraq is in Civil War, but most Americans Know it Anyway

Not only is Bush denying how bad Iraq has become, he's trying to keep americans from knowing how bad it is.

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The Bush administration is concealing the level of violence against U.S. troops in Iraq and the situation there is growing worse despite White House and Pentagon claims of progress, journalist Bob Woodward said in advance of a new book.

Insurgent attacks against U.S.-led forces in Iraq occurred, on average, every 15 minutes, Woodward said in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview taped for broadcast on Sunday.

"It's getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week. That's more than a hundred a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces," Woodward said in excerpts of the interview released on Thursday before the release of his book on the administration, called "State of Denial."

"The assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon (saying) 'Oh, no, things are going to get better,'" Woodward added.

Parts of a National Intelligence Estimate that President George W. Bush ordered released this week showed an upsurge in Islamic militancy, while a new U.N. report said the Iraq war was providing al Qaeda with a training center and fresh recruits.

About that NIE -- remember, we only know it even exists because some of the findings were leaked. I'm pretty sure that if it hadn't been leaked, republicans would be talking about how well Iraq is going as we head into the November elections. We wouldn't know a damned thing about it.

Not that it would've made a difference. A new CNN poll shows that, "Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed consider Iraq to be in a civil war." Not that the american people have any special insight here -- it's hard to get the full picture of what's happening in Iraq from the media here. But going into November, this is real bad news for republicans arguing that Iraq will become a democracy any time soon.

What the poll does show is that people are listening to people who do know what they're talking about. McClatchy Newspapers gives us an idea of what those in the know are saying:

A top-ranked U.S. military officer in Iraq said Wednesday that the United States thought that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki was running out of time to prevent Iraq from dissolving into outright civil war.

"We have to fix this militia issue. We can't have armed militias competing with Iraq's security forces. But I have to trust the prime minister to decide when it is that we do that," said Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the second-highest-ranking American military official in Baghdad.

Chiarelli's comments to a gathering of reporters were a part of a growing chorus of concerns from U.S. political and military leaders about the Iraqi government's ability and willingness to tackle corruption and militia-run death squads. They suggest that top American leaders are growing frustrated with the pace of reforms and may even be starting to argue for eventual U.S. withdrawal.

While Chiarelli isn't going so far as to say it is civil war, it's not hard to reach that conclusion. "Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a top American military spokesman, said Wednesday that murders and executions were now the top reasons for civilian deaths in Baghdad," McClatchy reported. "He said it was widely believed that Shiite militias and Sunni Muslim insurgency groups were doing the killing."

Going back to the CNN poll, it found, "Of those questioned now, more people -- 48 percent of those surveyed -- considered themselves doves than hawks (44 percent). When the Iraq war began, the numbers were not that much different: 45 percent of those polled considered themselves doves, while 43 percent called themselves hawks.

"The poll defined a hawk as 'someone who believes that military force should be used frequently to promote U.S. policy' and a dove as 'someone who believes the U.S. should rarely or never use military force.'" More people are for a peaceful foreign policy than the administration's schoolyard bully strategy. More bad news for the GOP.

And the civilian leadership isn't doing well in the court of public opinion -- the poll gives Bush an approval rating of 46%, Rumsfeld 35%, and Dick Cheney scored 37%. Sorry Rummie, but when you score lower than the Big Dick, you're pretty much screwed.

All polls show a greater percentage planning to vote democratic than republican in November (see chart). And not surprisingly, Iraq is the GOP's problem. In a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll, 'The situation in Iraq' scored top as a national priority. 88% answered that it was either extremely or very important.

I'm not a big fan of mix-and-match polling, but the results of the polls seem to show that people are very worried about Iraq, are pretty much sure it's not going well, are not in favor of it, and plan to vote because of it.

Which is why republicans aren't really talking about Iraq on the campaign trail (as I posted a while back, some aren't even mentioning they're republicans). When talking about Iraq, they use the term 'war on terror'.

I'm not sure who they think they're fooling with that, but there it is. They're losing the Iraq debate, so they're shying away from it. Not only should they be pressed into discussing Iraq whenever possible, they should asked about Afghanistan, where things aren't going a lot better -- I'd imagine that the ignorance of many candidates about the Afghan war would be shocking.


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