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Monday, September 10, 2007

Petraeus Report Already Seen as BS

Some things you don't have to be a psychic to predict. The adventure TV series will end its season with a cliffhanger, Family Circus in the Sunday funnies will suck, and a report on Iraq that the White House has anything to do with is going to be BS.

We start the week with the media waiting breathlessly for a report by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Iraq. Initial reports tell us that the report "would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government." This is what Bush refers to as an "independent" report. An actual independent report gives us a better view, without the rose-colored lens that the White House will project Petraeus's and Crocker's report through.

Associated Press:

In vertical bars of blue, green, gray and red, a briefing chart prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency says what Gen. David Petraeus won't.

Insurgent attacks against Iraqi civilians, their security forces and U.S. troops remain high, according to the document obtained by The Associated Press. It is a conclusion that the well-regarded Army officer who is the top U.S. commander in Iraq is expected to try to counter when he and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, testify before Congress on Monday and Tuesday.

Not only are attacks still high, but the numbers suggest we're the biggest part of the problem. By far the majority of insurgent attacks have been on US forces. About 3,000 in July, compared with less than 1,000 on iraqi security forces and less than 1,000 on iraqi civilians. It may be that if these US forces weren't there, more than three fifths of the violence in Iraq wouldn't happen.

Another point we can shoot down before we hear Petraeus's report is that the surge has brought down violence in Anbar. Newsweek reports, "The surge of U.S. troops -- meant in part to halt the sectarian cleansing of the Iraqi capital -- has hardly stemmed the problem. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July was slightly higher than in February, when the surge began... Rafiq Tschannen, chief of the Iraq mission for the International Organization for Migration, says that the fighting that accompanied the influx of U.S. troops actually 'has increased the [internally displaced persons] to some extent.'"

Violence is down because ethnic cleansing campaigns have left very few people to drive out. In any case, the military hadn't tracked civilian deaths in the past, so the deaths are down compared to what exactly? I have some small experience in statistical analysis and I can tell you that mixing and matching data doesn't work very well. The methodology has to be consistent -- i.e., in order to compare two sets of numbers, they both have to be arrived at in the same way. If the Pentagon doesn't have its own pre-escalation numbers -- and there's no reason to believe they do -- then they'll be comparing the numbers from their studies to those of non-governmental studies like Iraq Body Count and the british medical journal, Lancet.

And the methodology won't be consistent -- or even rational. In a completely arbitrary method of arriving at a death toll, the Pentagon will count a body that has a gunshot wound through the front of the head as criminal and it won't be included in the body count for the war. If it's through the back of the head, it's a sectarian killing -- as if iraqis determine which sort of group of armed thugs they'll run away from. This is the kind of ridiculous BS that'll be sprinkled throughout the report.

For our part, the american people already know it's BS. Bush's propaganda is dismissed these days before it's even presented.

Agence France-Presse:

Most Americans believe that the report that the top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, will deliver to Congress on the 'surge' of troops in Iraq will be overly positive, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll out Sunday.


Fifty-three percent of those polled said they believed that Petraeus would try to present things better than they are, while 39 percent thought he would honestly portray the situation in Iraq.

A clear majority -- 60 percent -- do not believe that US forces are making significant progress towards restoring order in Iraq, while 58 percent believe the 'surge' of forces have made little difference.

Looking into the future, 64 percent believe that the 'surge' will not improve security in Iraq over the next few months.

Apparently, we're not a stupid as recent history would suggest.

Bush is expected to use the report for another $50 billion to continue the war. If polling is correct, that request is going to be extremely unpopular and Petraeus's report, already dismissed by the majority as BS, is unlikely to change that.

Dems have their chance -- the chance they abandoned earlier this year. They can impose a timetable on Bush or let him defund his damned war himself. They caved last time and now their polling numbers are lower than Bush's. They can't make the same mistake this time.

They gave the president his one last chance to pull this thing out of a tailspin and he failed. It's time to bail out before it hits the ground.


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Rybu said...

Yep. Bush hedged his bet and new what was going to be said. I can't imagine him putting so much emphasis on the report without knowing what was going to be said. What do you think?

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Tim Roth said...

Those poll numbers are very telling, but the Bush administration makes it no secret that they don't care about polls.

The ugly truth is it doesn't matter what gains in security are made because these improvements are simply unsustainable without a strong political solution. If we flood a section of Baghdad with troops, the violence will go down...that's not rocket science.

I've come to the conclusion that Iraq isn't meant to be. We should consider novel idea like dividing up Iraq or even redrawing the crude borders of the Middle East. Seems unrealistic, but it has been many times before in history and the ethnic cleansing is already doing the job. Unlike the British and French after WWI, this time we should work with current Middle East leaders to figure out the best broad-based solution.