My Photo

« Double Standards | Main | Quote Of The Day »

September 02, 2007

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834515c2369e200e54ed6114b8833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Clarifying Month:

Comments

Nice graphs.
I notice that seasonal variation hides the actual secular trend.
Please do a year-to-year comparison graph to make clear the fact that civilian deaths are much higher this year than last year at this time.

"As for me, I'm still reserving final judgment on the current counterinsurgency strategy until year end."

We're all astonished by this shocking turn of events.

"Please do a year-to-year comparison graph to make clear the fact that civilian deaths are much higher this year than last year at this time."

Like this one?

As for me, I'm reserving judgment until sometime in 2011.

By that time, it will have been 50 years since we got involved in Vietnam, which is enough time to have some perspective on that war.

I'll let you know about Iraq sometime in 2050.

Until then, keep plugging away, guys! Keep showing the same grit and resolve that I show by supporting you indefinitely!

Here:

[...] But figures provided to The New York Times by an Interior Ministry official who asked to remain anonymous indicated that 2,318 civilians died violently in the country in August, compared with 1,980 in July.
Regardless, anyone who cares about stats should remember how the military spent the entire Vietnam War to "prove" that we were winning at every moment in time.

The only thing that matters is is there an Iraqi government that's generally recognized as non-sectarian, legitimate, representative, and at least semi-competent, by Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds alike?

Until the answer is, if not "yes," at least "it's clearly headed in that direction," then one can diddle around with any numbers one likes, to one's heart's content, and it's all dust in the wind.

Anyone who believes they're meaningful measures of anything worth measuring, is fooling themselves. Again.

"They tried to start a civil war, and it's still working in parts of Baghdad." Observations like this fascinate me, in the context of an overall optimistic assessment. I find it hard to imagine saying the same about a civil war in some parts of Washington DC, or London, or Berlin, but then maybe that's just failure of imagination on my part.

In the meantime, of course, electricity production is done, more Iraqis are fleeing, and the US is openly announcing its plan to overthrow the government we used to claim represented the democratic will of the people. But none of this calls for more than patience.

Gary nails it, though, in his best big-picture fashion.

Iraq isn't at peace, and doesn't have security or liberty. Iraq has no more peace, liberty, or security than it did a year ago, or the year before that, or...all the way back to when we overthrew Hussein.

It's easy to lose track of this in the moment, but suppose that we were able to send back a full set of reports on the condition of Iraq this month to September 2002. Would anyone want to be arguing that this is what we'd consider a successful and desirable state of affairs for the country? If you could know, say, only the state of Iraq in September 2002, and September 2004, and now, would you say "This is a country on the road to the sort of secular, prosperous, free society we value in the West"?

I find it hard to understand that there are still people claiming "we" are making progress in Iraq. People have been saying that for 5 years now and it has been a lie every time. How can you stand to make these kinds of pre-debunked claims bd?

I am interested in your comment that al Qaeda is responsible for the attack that killed 500 or so Yezidis. I was not aware that anyone had been caught or tried for that crime, or really that it was clear that one group or another did it, by any standard of evidence. Perhaps some Kurds did it, taking advantage of the general disorder to get rid of a minority group in their territory. Perhaps some Shi'ites did it, to try to destabilize the fairly stable Kurdish controlled region. Either of these groups would have ample motivation to blame such an act on al Qaeda.

In fact, the same is true about much of your attribution of responsibility. I know it is the Army's job to tell the press that all, or almost all, the violence in Iraq is due to al Qaeda; they're who we're supposed to be fighting in the War on Terror, so it better be them we're fighting or we've screwed up somewhere. But just because the Army says it's true, doesn't make it true. I'm curious if you have any other evidence for your statement that al Qaeda remains public enemy number one.

Let's say we "stay the course" with BushCo. To all appearances, our War Party leaders are sidling up to the idea that for things to improve, they'll have to install a Sunni strongman to re-establish civil order, so that electricity and water can come back, and so that the oil can flow efficiently through Halliburton's hands. And the strongman needs to be a secularist, who might be able to twist and force Iraq into some semblance of a secular state.

So if they succeed in this endeavor, by 2010 or so Iraq will become a fractured nation ruled by a brutal and unscrupulous Sunni strongman, a secularist, armed and supported by the United States, who serves as a regional counter-weight to Iran.

Haven't I seen this movie before?
It seems familiar somehow.

....you can also see the trends since the Golden Mosque bombing in February 2006, where al Qaeda successfully triggered an upswing in sectarian violence. They tried to start a civil war, and it's still working in parts of Baghdad.

I want to ask yet again whether anyone has credible evidence that it was al Qaeda that bombed the Golden Mosque.

As I remember it, first we simply assumed that AQI did it. Then we had a suspected insurgent who confessed under torture that he was an AQI member and confessed under torture that AQI bombed the Golden Mosque.

I have heard of no other evidence about who did it. A whole lot of iraqis didn't believe it was AQI. Has anyone else heard anything particularly believable about who did it?

"It's easy to lose track of this in the moment, but suppose that we were able to send back a full set of reports on the condition of Iraq this month to September 2002. Would anyone want to be arguing that this is what we'd consider a successful and desirable state of affairs for the country?"

Bruce, Bruce, Bruce: the error you're making here is that you're focusing on the present.

Charles, and people of like mind, make this work by focusing always on the future.

I don't mean to be unkind or mean or harsh about Charles here, though what I'm about to say perfectly well is, but I'm afraid I find it to be the clearest description of the truth: Charles continues to prove himself to be infinitely willing to be made a fool of, as his gullibility is such that he is willing to take any scrap of information, or metric, that he can find to grasp onto -- and which are, of course, provided to him by pro-war sources, professional and amateur alike -- and find it convincing evidence that there just might be a good chance that the war will really start to turn around in another few months, or a year or so, and if he ever gives up hope while such straws are available to be grasped onto, he'll have made the mistake of having been a loser-defeatist, and his self-image will completely collapse. (And all his RedState friends will finish casting him out.)

This is easily self-justified by genuine idealism about wanting things to turn out for the best, not to have been in vain, and so on. It's not an extraordinarily unusual sort of self-delusion.

In Charles' case, it's got a sort of almost shameless perkiness to it. It's like having one of Regis Philbin's perky partners delivering the Iraq news to us.

And so long as there's some "evidence," some "number" that can indicate some sort of "progress," no matter how pointlessly irrelevant to the actual underlying issue (that Iraq is politically, religiously, and ethnically, fractured, and it ain't coming together, and there ain't anything much we can do about it, and that making them a better armed and trained fractured people isn't going to help), why, we've just got to give the situation another six months, don't you see?

The shame is that we're not in South Vietnam today, still holding off the North Vietnamese onslaught: after all, we'd won the war by the time we left! And the numbers indicate they could never defeat us! (True: we could never have been thrown out if we'd been willing to keep taking the casualties; anyone think it would be a good idea for us still to be taking thousands of casulaties a year in Vietnam? How about Iraq in twenty years? Or just ten? They can't throw us out of Iraq, either, if we're just willing to take the casualties. How this will ever lead to a coherent Iraqi government, I have no idea, though.)

Despite more troops and more action on the front lines, military casualties were relatively low in July and August.

8/2007 85
8/2006 66
8/2005 85

7/2007 88
7/2006 46
7/2005 58

Guess it depends on the meaning of "relatively".

I disagree with the notion that AQ (which is not even "al Qaeda" as it's commonly understood) is public enemy number one. Hell, even Fred Kagan admits that it's a mostly home-grown organization.

public enemy number one is the sectarian divisions (both intra and inter ethnic) that we are currently exacerbating and inflaming. NOtice that civilian casualties have gone up each year. compare the lowest month in 2007 to the highest in 2005. There's no reason to think this is stopping.

But the larger point here is that by portraying all this as "al Qaeda" is simply misleading people about the nature of the fight - while simultaneously stirring up emotional responses. The "Iran-supported" militias isn't much better, given that they are not a monolithic group, and that there's a lack of evidence of high-level Iranian involvement. (If we're just going by supplier of weapons, the militias are more "American-supported").

So I guess I disagree with the premise of this post.

You can see some year-to-year comparisons in the second graph, joel. There have indeed been seasonal fluctuations to the violence but, to me, there are two factors that render that sort of comparison less than meaningful: the Golden Mosque bombing in Feb-2006, and the start of the surge strategy in Feb-2007.

I was not aware that anyone had been caught or tried for that crime, or really that it was clear that one group or another did it, by any standard of evidence.

If they're suicide bombings, Tayi, the default position is that al Qaeda & Co. are responsible (cite). This isn't the Army telling me this, and you will see that I have no Army or Bush administration links in this post. There is no evidence of Kurds or Iraqi Shiites conducting suicide attacks in Iraq, and this isn't the first time that al Qaeda has targeted Yezidis.

I want to ask yet again whether anyone has credible evidence that it was al Qaeda that bombed the Golden Mosque.

Al Qaeda members were captured and they confessed (cite), and it fits with Zarqawi's plan to destabilize Iraq by instigating sectarian violence.

Charles,
interesting post.
I'm looking forward to your updates
in september 2008,september 2009,september 201,september 2011,september 2012...

I know it is the Army's job to tell the press that all, or almost all, the violence in Iraq is due to al Qaeda

Not true. Sometimes their job is to tell us that all, or almost all, the violence in Iraq is due to Iran.

That al-Baghdadi story is brilliant. I hadn't seen it before.

This kind of post is so frustrating.

Farber, robd, Joel all explain the idiocy of the post.

I did particularly enjoy KCinDC's post.

Doesnt the absolute insanity of being willing to accept anything as progress get tiring?

Al Qaeda members were captured and they confessed (cite), and it fits with Zarqawi's plan to destabilize Iraq by instigating sectarian violence.

From the cite:

Abu Qudama confessed to taking part in the attack on al-Askari mosque in Samarra and gave a detailed account of how the attack took place. Al-Rubaie said Iraqi security forces have yet to capture the mastermind of the mosque attack, Haitham al-Badri, an Iraqi and leader of one of Al Qaeda in Iraq's cells. Al-Rubaie said al-Badri, Abu Qudama, four Saudi nationals and two other Iraqis stormed the mosque Feb. 21, rounded up the shrine's guards, members of Iraq's Facility Protection Service, and bound their hands. The group then spent the rest of the night rigging the mosque with bombs. At dawn the next day, they detonated the explosives, bringing down the dome.

Aside from the reasonable doubt that I now have associated with any confessions that may have been obtained through the new exciting interrogation techniques, does anyone know why the Shiite guards were tied up and survived rather than simply killed?

That point has always bothered me vis a vis an al Qaeda operation. It simply isn't their M.O.

It bears repeating: al Qaeda chose Iraq as the central front in its war against us...

Hypothetically, had we invaded Saudi Arabia would al Qaeda still have chosen Iraq as the central front in its war against us?

Tell you what, CB: I'll agree that we're winning in Iraq, if you'll agree that after six more months of such progress we can leave altogether.

What's that? We can't because we're afraid that the Sunni militias we've been working with will go at it against the Shia militias that've been standing down? As they say in Philadelphia, why'd you get on the train to Wshington if you wanted to go to New York City?

I don’t know guys – I found this to be fairly balanced. Why the pile on?

If the neo-cons' goal was/is to establish a client state in the Middle East that is the dominant regional power (and Israel is never going to fill that role), I can't shake the feeling that Iran is playing a masterful defensive game here. Don't let things get too cool -- it has to continue to look like a quagmire. Don't let things get too hot -- don't want to give Bush/Cheney an obvious reason for air strikes against Iran proper. US troop drawdowns start in Spring 2008 simply because to do otherwise will require deployment schedules and equipment spending that Congressional Republicans don't dare tolerate.

Of course, if I were a neo-con and that client state had been my goal, a large-scale invasion would have been pretty much at the bottom of the list of gambits that I would consider...

Not far behind are Iranian-supported Shiite paramilitias. With al-Sadr standing down, the coalition will have an easier time targeting the "rogue" Shiite squads.

Charles, not sure if you intended to imply that al Sadr's militia is Iranian-supported or not. Maybe you meant the Badr brigade?

"I want to ask yet again whether anyone has credible evidence that it was al Qaeda that bombed the Golden Mosque."

Al Qaeda members were captured and they confessed (cite), and it fits with Zarqawi's plan to destabilize Iraq by instigating sectarian violence.

Your link gives the same information I already had. One (1) insurgent was captured and under torture confessed to being in AQI and confessed to blowing up the Golden Dome. This is absolutely not credible evidence. It could be true, but if they'd wanted to they could just as easily have gotten him to confess to being a GOP member who blew up the White House. it's completely bogus, no credibility whatsoever.

Your link mentions that a second insurgent was captured and confessed to being in AQI and using the name of the AQI official who supposedly ordered the Golden Dome bombing. After more than two months of interrogation they reported that he revealed lots of useful information but your link does not say he confessed to the Golden Dome.

We have no credible evidence whatsoever that it was AQI who did that, beyond the idea that they're the sort of people who'd do it. As your link points out, many iraqis instead blame the USA and/or israel on preciselly the same grounds. (Actually it doesn't mention the iraqis who believe that but only the iranian president and the hizbollah spokesman who publicised the claim.) I haven't seen that they have any more credible evidence than you do. It's all speculation with no credible evidence.

OCSteve: I don’t know guys – I found this to be fairly balanced. Why the pile on?

Suggest you read back through all CB's previous posts on ObWing about Iraq.

Tell you what, CB: I'll agree that we're winning in Iraq, if you'll agree that after six more months of such progress we can leave altogether.

This is exactly right. Our leaders (GOP, Dem, whatever) can't give the order to leave until they can credibly say "We Won." Let's figure a way to let them find a way to say it.

I found this to be fairly balanced.

Well, troop casualties are significantly up, not down as implied by this post. Secondly, even if troop casualties are up, that would not indicate that the surge is failing. Which makes me ask what is particularly clarifying about these statistics? The surge's success or failure will more surely be determined after it's over, no?

Suppose Saddam's regime had been overthrown by a domestic uprising, and not by an American invasion. Suppose an incompetent "emergency government" had spent a year pulling bonehead stunts like disbanding the Army and purging nominal Baathists, then staged ill-conceived elections that were more a census than a referendum, and then skipped town, leaving a "unity government" in charge. Suppose the place turned into a cauldron of sectarian violence along the lines we see today.

Now imagine that the "unity government" of Iraq asked for US military help to defeat the "insurgents". Would you send 160,000 troops?

If the answer is no, but you nevertheless support _keeping_ 160,000 troops in Iraq now, look up the definition of "sunk costs".

In Charles' case, it's got a sort of almost shameless perkiness to it. It's like having one of Regis Philbin's perky partners delivering the Iraq news to us.

Like this ?

It is simultaneously hilarious and sad.

OCS: I don’t know guys – I found this to be fairly balanced. Why the pile on?

Pile on? Compared to past comments threads attached to CB Iraq posts, this has (thus far) practically been a love-in. ;-)

(Since others have already handled the objections I was going to raise, I'll simply extend my thanks to Charles for main-paging Matt Taibbi's corruption article.)

I don’t know guys – I found this to be fairly balanced. Why the pile on?

To the degree that it is a pile-on, my guess -- and it is a guess -- would be that it's because a) it lacks a lot of context, and b) this is Charles' first front-pager, I believe, since his previous "the surge is working" post, meaning he's been MIA for, oh, a whole lot of Bush Administration-related nonsense over the last three months, sort of begging the question of why this post, why now?

CB: I'll agree that we're winning in Iraq, if you'll agree that after six more months of such progress we can leave altogether.

Why would you agree to something that I did not suggest in the first place, Charley? Ask me again in December.

Charles, not sure if you intended to imply that al Sadr's militia is Iranian-supported or not. Maybe you meant the Badr brigade?

Al Sadr admitted "formal links" with Iranian-supported Hezbollah, d+p+u. If Kim Kagan's Iran Dossier is accurate, Qods forces have been supply Mahdi militants with weapons. At issue are the Mahdi militias splitting from al Sadr, which may also be Iranian-supported. As I understand it, the Badr Brigades are even closer to the Iranian regime.

this is Charles' first front-pager, I believe, since his previous "the surge is working" post

One would think it wouldn't be too tall an order to keep from mischaracterizing, Phil. Alas. Please point to where I said the "surge is working". That Tough Month post was sure full of chearleading, wasn't it? Same with the follow-up, no?

"I don’t know guys – I found this to be fairly balanced. Why the pile on?"

Posted by: OCSteve

See the analysis by
Kevin Drum, linked by Gary, above (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_08/011974.php)

In short, CB's analysis ignores massive seasonality which has characterized the violence in Iraq for a few years now (e.g., things get quieter during the summer). Because of this, Jan-July comparisons are flat-out invalid. And even so, some of them show increases which means that there are *very strong things going badly, bucking the seasonality.

I disagree with Charles about just about everything, but I like Obsidian Wings better when he's an active part of it.

Just thought that was worth typing out loud.

Oh, bite me, Charles. Don't get your Victoria's Secret all in a bunch. I remembered correctly that your last front-pager involved the same topic, and it can be fairly summarized as "Casualties of all kinds appear to be down, and political progress is being made." Hedging your bet at the end with "Whether it will happen who knows" is hardly sufficient to detract from the fact that all your recent posts have been on casualty numbers with what appears to be a clear intent to discover progress. Where exactly that leaves us on the spectrum between "cheerleading" and "the surge is working" I'll leave for others to decide, but I hardly think it's a mischaracterization.

If Kim Kagan's Iran Dossier is accurate . . .

Ha ha. If we can't trust the Kagans, who can we trust?

Al Sadr admitted "formal links" with Iranian-supported Hezbollah, d+p+u

Uh huh. That would make them less Iranian-supported and more Hezbollah supported, right?

As I understand it, the Badr Brigades are even closer to the Iranian regime.

Indeed. I'm not arguing that Iran does not have connections with the Mahdi militia, but curious why the focus on those rather speculative connections rather on those with the Badr Brigade and the SIIC, which are pretty clear.

Oh, bite me, Charles.

Well, that wasn't very nice. Isn't the first posting rule "Be reasonably civil"?

Charles: "Al Sadr admitted "formal links" with Iranian-supported Hezbollah, d+p+u."

Since you like the Independent, Charles, let's go to the next link at that page, and to their chief Iraq correspondent, Patrick Coburn, and his piece, Ignominious end to futile exercise that cost the UK 168 lives.

The withdrawal of British forces from Basra Palace, ahead of an expected full withdrawal from the city as early as next month, marks the beginning of the end of one of the most futile campaigns ever fought by the British Army.

Ostensibly, the British will be handing over control of Basra to Iraqi security forces. In reality, British soldiers control very little in Basra, and the Iraqi security forces are largely run by the Shia militias.

The British failure is almost total after four years of effort and the death of 168 personnel. "Basra's residents and militiamen view this not as an orderly withdrawal but rather as an ignominious defeat," says a report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. "Today, the city is controlled by militias, seemingly more powerful and unconstrained than before."

Have you read much of Patrick Coburn's work, Charles? He's extremely experienced. You might look into it.

Since you like the Independent.

Since you like the Independent.

Hmmm. I smell snark. Or a wumpus.

How's about Charles and Gary posting something about Haditha, since they are experts on the subject. Especially now that some of the video has been released.

(Hint: you can find the CNN clip at HotAir.)

Although I have replied to Charles, and attempted to counter some of his ideas, I said nothing about "idiocy". I am deeply grateful that someone who disagrees with me about these important issues and events is willing to engage in a civil argument, and has the strength of character to continue to contribute in the face of invective.

OCSteve is correct in that for CB this is a very balanced post and is, in fact, probably less fantasy driven than what we will here in t5he next few weeks from the administration.

The fact that the statistics CB uses are somewhat irrelevant because they are comparing apples to oranges does not dimish the effort CB put into this.

A major quibble I have is with the statement "It bears repeating: al Qaeda chose Iraq as the central front in its war against us..."

It doesn't bear repeating because it is only half true. It was, in fact, this administration that declared Iraq as the central front in the idiotically named "War on Terror" long before al Qaeda declared it as the central front in their war against us.

Of course, that has only allowed the administration to say that since al Qaeda has said so, that makes it so. Another ridiculous attitude. Since al Qaeda is not an existential threat to the US, since AQI is at best a minor league affiliate of the major league club, since the Kagans (wow what great auhtority there) have told us it is mainly Iraqis, why should we care what al Qaeda thinks? It has been pretty obvious that AQI would probably have a pretty short life spanonce we leave. Additionally, there would be far fewer recruits for AQ once we leave.

It is amazing how the "central front" has, by the estimates of many in the intelligence community, tripled the size of al Qaeda and it affiliates, provided training that will prove invaluable to them which they could have gotten no other way, and the only solutuion is to keep doing the same thing.

Finally, the meeting with the agreement is probably a smoke screen and if I was an Iraqi, I definitely would not wnat the oil legislation as written, since (although ostensibly it provides for equitable sharing) its main goal is to make sure the west has control of the oil.

Bit, to finish on an up note, both this post and CB's last one were probably more balanced and fairer than anything he has written in the past.

At the risk of being uncivil, this whole debate is ridiculous. At the point someone is saying this:

It bears repeating: al Qaeda chose Iraq as the central front in its war against us, and they remain public enemy number one in Iraq.

as if geography, proximity, and all sorts of simple explanations don't point to the fact that they're attacking us there because we're there in the first place, well, GAHH!!! Brain, hurts, stop!

All of these pretty graphs point to one obvious conclusion. If violence is down in Baghdad because we put more troops there, but violence is up where we didn't put troops, we need more troops.

If we're not willing as a nation to take on the sacrifice of stabilizing Iraq, meaning a return to conscription or some other way of putting a significantly larger force on the ground, we should leave.

That's the failure here, and it has been the failure here from the freaking beginning. Everything else that has happened since has been a failure drawing from that. All this political kabuki, and come on, we all know this is a show debate about a show change in strategy, is idiotic.

This war is expensive and we're half-assing our commitment because the President doesn't have the leadership skills or initiative to ask for more sacrifice from the American people, and the Democrats are opposed to the policy on it's face, believing it to be wrong. This all points to one sane option, which is a managed withdrawal.

Sujal

If Sadr makes good on standing down his army, that's a big improvement. With Sadr, though, it's necessary to look at context: he's a major player in national politics, wants to be a major player, and with the national government tottering, he's in a good place to play kingmaker (or kingbreaker).

I also think counting casualties to evaluate the surge is putting the cart before the horse. The reason for the surge was to provide enough stability for the national government so it could become (more) effective, particularly at power-sharing and reconciliation. This has not happened. On the contrary, the government is so corrupt it's not functioning at all, and the most Ministries happen also to be the most important ones. That Maliki might be on his way out is also not a good sign, because the only names I've heard as replacements - Allawi and, for gods' sake, Chalabi - will only make the instability/ethnic cleansing problem worse.

Keeping our troops in Iraq in order to prop up an unpopular, corrupt, ineffectual client government is another echo of Vietnam. Since the RW has bought into the idea that we could have won in Vietnam if only we'd stayed longer, it looks as though the Right wants to use Iraq to test that theory. The Gulf of Tonkin incident was in 1964; the final pull-out was in 1975. That's 11 years. Since that was too short a time, by the Right's estimation, I have to assume the idea is to be at war in Iraq for, what, 20 years?

Since that was too short a time, by the Right's estimation, I have to assume the idea is to be at war in Iraq for, what, 20 years?

Almost right.

The idea is to be in Iraq for 20 years.

I'll try to explain the neo-con thinking. If the US decided to fight AQ in Afghanistan, there would be the same amount of new terrorists, it would destabalize Pakistan (a nuclear power) and we would be getting our ass kicked. Now, in Iraq, the US got out of Saudi Arabia, but is still close enough to protect it and the Gulf States from AQ, and has eliminated the threat from Saddam. Plus, we are kicking AQ's ass in Iraq. If and when a really free, democratic Iraq emerges, then we have an ally against AQ and terror supporting states such as Iran and Syria. And it would offer an alternative model for Arab and Muslim nations to the archipelago of tyrannies that they have now.

That has been my thinking since 2002, and hasn't changed since then.

Oh yeah, and if Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies, and if the Iranian people overthrow the mullahs, then we will have defeated the Islamist terrorists, game set, match.

I know that nobody here agrees with this. I'm just trying to explain the idea. Dave Schuler once had a post about risk assessment and how Pres Bush is the type to take a gamble in hopes for a huge payoff. That's pretty clear to me, but YMMV.

In order to avoid piling on, I will just second john miller's comment at 8:46 PM.

On the other hand, CharleyCarp's comment, "As they say in Philadelphia, why'd you get on the train to Wshington if you wanted to go to New York City?" needs some piling on. Having lived in Philly or its suburbs for all but 5 years of my life, I have never heard anyone here say anything even approaching that.

Plus, we are kicking AQ's ass in Iraq.

well... we are kicking the asses of a few people who've recently signed-up to fight us in a conveniently-located place. that's a distinctly different group from the alQ who pull off the big attacks like 9/11, 3/11 and 7/7. we're fighting alQ's "Come Fight America In Iraq" contingent - a group that didn't even exist until we decided to make a multi-year occupation out of W Big Iraqi Adventure.

and, killing the AQI people isn't going to have much effect on the traditional AQ: the AQ that has even the slightest chance of hurting us at home.

Why the pile on?

Charles has been going through Friedman Units like a pack of gum. A lot of the local commenters have caught wise to this.

If and when a really free, democratic Iraq emerges, then we have an ally against AQ and terror supporting states such as Iran and Syria. And it would offer an alternative model for Arab and Muslim nations to the archipelago of tyrannies that they have now.

And if you bet your house on the Browns winning the Super Bowl, you could become a millionaire. Only you and Bush aren't just playing with money, you're also playing with human lives.

I'll join everyone else calling shenanigans on the whole percentage of the violence caused by al Queda or its namesakes.

What, they leave calling cards now every time they kill some random person in the outer areas? This is all just propoganda justifying remaining.

Oh yeah, and if Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies, and if the Iranian people overthrow the mullahs, then we will have defeated the Islamist terrorists, game set, match.

How to rid the world of all known diseases

As featured in the Flying Circus TV Show - Episode 28

The cast:

ALAN
John Cleese
NOEL
Graham Chapman
JACKIE
Eric Idle

The sketch:

(Cut to a sign saying 'How to do it'. Music. Pull out to reveal a 'Blue Peter' type set. Sitting casually on the edge of a dais an three presenters in sweaters - Noel, Jackie and Alan - plus a large bloodhound.)

Alan: Hello.

Noel: Hello.

Alan: Well, last week we showed you how to become a gynaecologist. And this week on 'How to do it' we're going to show you how to play the flute, how to split an atom, how to construct a box girder bridge, how to irrigate the Sahara Desert and make vast new areas of land cultivatable, but first, here's Jackie to tell you all how to rid the world of all known diseases.

Jackie: Hello, Alan.

Alan: Hello, Jackie.

Jackie: Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvellous cure for something, and then, when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be any diseases ever again.

Alan: Thanks, Jackie. Great idea. How to play the flute. (picking up a flute) Well here we are. You blow there and you move your fingers up and down here.

Noel: Great, great, Alan. Well, next week we'Ll be showing you how black and white people can live together in peace and harmony, and Alan will be over in Moscow showing us how to reconcile the Russians and the Chinese. So, until next week, cheerio.

Alan: Bye.

Jackie: Bye.

(Children's music.)

I'll join everyone else calling shenanigans on the whole percentage of the violence caused by al Queda or its namesakes.

Hell yeah. Especially given this innovative methodology:

If they're suicide bombings, Tayi, the default position is that al Qaeda & Co. are responsible.

I.e., The guy doesn't know jack, but he can turn it into bar charts.

Anyway, it's nice to see the new twist on being "civil" to war shills: Yes, we know the guy's a Johnny-one-note, yes, we know he's disingenuous about his real motives, but he puts such an awful lotta work into it, and he keeps coming back. It's like the atta-boys you hear at the Special Olympics.

DantheM: Heh.

CB: As I understand it, the Badr Brigades are even closer to the Iranian regime. No doubt about it. They're part of the Hakim organization. Our primary allies in the thing.

If we're really going to purge Iranian influence from the Iraqi government, we'll be at war with Hakim, Maliki, and Talabani. By the definition I've seen used around here, this makes us AIF.

(I by the way do not join in the scepticism about AQI responsibility for the golden mosque. Or AQI responsibility for car bombs at Shiite markets and the like. No evidence, I just think it's a fair surmise.)

Anyway, it's nice to see the new twist on being "civil" to war shills: Yes, we know the guy's a Johnny-one-note, yes, we know he's disingenuous about his real motives, but he puts such an awful lotta work into it, and he keeps coming back. It's like the atta-boys you hear at the Special Olympics.

Hey, there's good news -- there's no need to stick around for it: there are lots of web joints where one can be obnoxious as one wants to the war-shills. You can even use Special Olympics cracks there if you want.

But it's not a "new twist". The posting rules have been around for a while now.

(I by the way do not join in the scepticism about AQI responsibility for the golden mosque. Or AQI responsibility for car bombs at Shiite markets and the like. No evidence, I just think it's a fair surmise.)

That they would have no compulsion in blowing up a holy Shia shrine, I agree. That they would do it by tying up guards rather than simply killing them and spending several hours setting up demolition charges instead of simply driving a truck bomb through the front entrance, that I have a problem with.

Oh yeah, and if Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies, and if the Iranian people overthrow the mullahs, then we will have defeated the Islamist terrorists, game set, match.

That's game, set, match, pony.

I find it quite interesting that someone trying to make a serious argument would cite Wikipedia as his source of information. You are aware that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone with an account, right? Which means that while it may be a great source for the plot of an obscure movie, it's not so great for things that are politically charged to an extreme degree.

I would still be very interested in information about the conclusion that AQI is responsible for the recent attack against the Yezidis.

You are aware that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone with an account, right?

And you are aware that properly edited Wikipedia entries list sources that can be checked to verify the content, right?

I don't often agree with Charles, but Wikipedia is a reasonable source to link to.

By the way, not just only people with accounts can edit. Anyone can.

Oh yeah, and if Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies, and if the Iranian people overthrow the mullahs, then we will have defeated the Islamist terrorists, game set, match.

This makes no sense to me at all. Prior to 2003, neither Iran nor Iraq were sponsoring terrorism against the United States. Nor were any known members of Al Qaeda Iraqi or Iranian. The primary sources of Al Qaeda members are Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and maybe Egypt. Why would these sources be affected by creating democracies in other countries?

CB, you have not yet answered why you think confessions obtained under torture constitute credible evidence.

And there are lots of islamists with terrorist leanings in Indonesia, the Philippines etc.
Not to forget a number of African states (though there the violence is usually internal).

"if Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies, and if the Iranian people overthrow the mullahs, then we will have defeated the Islamist terrorists,"

I would like to see some evidence for this claim. Why should we assume that any of these regimes will be friendly to us? For that matter, you seem to be suggesting that if the mullahs in Iran will be overthrown the result will be a democracy friendly to the United States (an assumption you seem to share with Glenn Reynolds), but I haven't ever seen the argument for why that will be the outcome (despite e-mailing Mr. Reynolds numerous times). I'm not an expert on Middle Eastern politics, but I can just as easily imagine it leading to internal conflict in Iran which merges with the violence in Iraq in new and exciting ways.

First off, Phil, a posting rules violation for the "bite me" comment. Second, in neither post did I say that the "surge is working", and I didn't use the phrase "political progress". In fact, I wrote that politics at the national level was not, noting only improvements have occurred at the local level. I ask you again. Stop mischaracterizing.

Have you read much of Patrick Coburn's work, Charles?

Yes, I have, Gary. I do read the Independent from time to time, but no longer Cockburn, and I think less of the newspaper for employing him.

Charles has been going through Friedman Units like a pack of gum.

You're completely wrong on the facts, Doug.

I find it quite interesting that someone trying to make a serious argument would cite Wikipedia as his source of information.

For the suicide bombings wiki link, Tayi, every bombing is linked to an independent media source.

CB, you have not yet answered why you think confessions obtained under torture constitute credible evidence.

Harold, do you have evidence that the captured al Qaeda members were tortured?

Harold, do you have evidence that the captured al Qaeda members were tortured?

Do you have evidence that they were not, Charles?

One of the many problems with coercive interrogation techniques, aside from the moral issues, is that information obtained is now suspect. Five years ago, I would not have questioned this kind of information. Now I just dismiss it out-of-hand as tainted. And I would certainly dismiss it as tainted if obtained by the IAF because I know that they both use torture and have a vested interest in certain information being made public.

CB, I looked at the 2006 article that the redstate guy claimed was lying.

The main point in dispute was that Patrick Cockburn said the attacks on east baghdad were american-led, while the DoD claimed that the iraqi army was leading itself. The DoD claimed that the iraqi army planned the mission and ran it with only US observers (and airsupport), and that we wouldn't have interfered unless the iraqi leaders messed up.

To say that the Independent is wrong, don't you have to uncritically accept DoD press releases? And as late as 2006, could any reasonable person do that?

Harold, do you have evidence that the captured al Qaeda members were tortured?

Do you have any evidence at all that the captured men who are claimed to be al-Qaeda members were not tortured?

It's a known and acknowledged fact that the US military tortures even legitimate prisoners of war. The track record of torturing prisoners who are alleged to be terrorists is even worse. Torture techniques are legally sanctioned by US Congress.

It's now up to those who wish to claim that they wish to claim certain prisoners of the US were not tortured to prove that this is so.

As for me, I'm still reserving final judgment on the current counterinsurgency strategy until year end.

So much for clarification.

Perhaps more accurately said, you are going to kick the can down the road on accountability. Because if there was anything positive to say about the last six months, then I am sure you would not be so reserved in your judgment.

As for the data, you display your partisan bias by repeating the "US casualties are down from the last few months" meme, which is used to assert that the surge is having a positive effect. When you wrote this post, were you already familiar with the response to this? -- that the proper comparison is to casualties last year since insurgent activity is always down in the summer, and it makes no sense to compare insurgent activity in July to that in April? And that casualties this Summer are higher than for any past Summer -- not less?

CB, I took the time to go through all the links related to the Qahtaniya bombings provided by Wikipedia. The only direct link that discusses responsibility for the attacks is a BBC World News article said, "The US military blamed al-Qaeda for the bombs." More searching of the links you provided led me to the Scotsman, which attributes that claim to a "Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Garver, a US military spokesman."

Here's the BBC piece, sorry I have no idea how to make a neat hyper link here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6947886.stm
And here's the Scotsman:
http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1294152007

If you're basing your claims on US Army press releases, that's ok. That's all I was wondering, if you were doing that or not.

Here's the BBC piece, sorry I have no idea how to make a neat hyper link here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6947886.stm

Like this:

Link text

Aw crap. ObiWi now interprets the escape characters differently. Sorry about that.

Charles, by what benchmarks do you intend to evaluate the current strategy at year's end?

You never seem to set any goals in advance, which is why these posts always have the same conclusion: "things look sorta rough, but there are a few hopeful signs, I guess we'll have to wait and see."

One of the reasons the Democrats fought so hard to set objective benchmarks, and the administration resisted so strenuously, is that without benchmarks you can play the "we might be starting to turn the corner" game until the end of time.

So I'd like to see you set a few realistic, objective goals that you'd like to see accomplished between now and the end of the year if, in fact, we are on the road to accomplishing our mission in Iraq.

First off, Phil, a posting rules violation for the "bite me" comment.

Call a waaaahmbulance, son. Am I supposed to go sit in the corner now?

Second, in neither post did I say that the "surge is working",

I am going to donate $100 to the charity of your choice in your name if the accumulated intent of all your recent posts does not, sometime after 9/12/07, to lead you to a place where you can say, "See? The surge is working!" You game?

and I didn't use the phrase "political progress".

Gee, sorry, "political reform" is certainly 180 degrees removed from "political progress."

In fact, I wrote that politics at the national level was not, noting only improvements have occurred at the local level. I ask you again. Stop mischaracterizing.

All those who think the intent of CB's three most recent posts is not some iteration of "the surge is working," please speak up.

Call a waaaahmbulance, son. Am I supposed to go sit in the corner now?

Man, am I ever losing interest in reading Phil's comments.

I spent some time doing an inexpert lit search on the golden dome thing. Almost every single link about this guy who confessed quoted the original iraqi government press release. That is, there was no particular reason to believe the guy even existed, much less got tortured or confessed. Nothing anywhere about what happened to him, and nothing about where he came from except he was tunisian and AQI.

I did find one different link:
strategypage

They claim that when Zarqawi was killed the troops got a whole lot of new information that came close to destroying AQI and also resulted in catching a lot of AQ members in other countries. And some of the information confirmed the details about AQI bombing the Golden Dome. I haven't yet found any corroboration of this report. These are guys who get a lot of secret information, and if you doubt them there's no way to check it because it's secret and they weren't supposed to know it any more than you're supposed to know it. Believe them or not.

These two utterly unreliable sources are all I've found to say that somebody by the name Yousri Fakher Mohammed Ali or Abu Qudama ever existed.

Then I found one link that ridiculed the whole thing, that quoted various named witnesses who thought it was americans with maybe ING support who blew up the Golden Dome. If iraq was a normal nation somebody could follow up with the eyewitnesses and confirm that they say what they're quoted to say, or at least that they were alive when they were claimed to have said it. But under the circumstances this one is unreliable too. It's a long page with lots of polemics on it, if you want this bit search for "Abu Qudama".
HREF="http://dailywarnews.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_archive.html"> sillylink

I was kind of impressed that they pointed out about information security -- there's no unified insurgency that we have to hide things from. Most of the reason for our tight control of information to the media is to keep americans from knowing too much. So for example with abu ghraib, there was no surprise for iraqis there. They'd been getting those reports for months, from multiple US bases. But US media had no particular reason to mention such things, it was all accusations by iraqis and of course we took the word of US soldiers above that of random iraqis who might be inspired by the insurgents to try to make us look bad. It was only when the media got photos that they took it seriously, and then they waited for the army to make an investigation and publish its report first.

Do you have any evidence at all that the captured men who are claimed to be al-Qaeda members were not tortured?

It's a known and acknowledged fact that the US military tortures even legitimate prisoners of war.

But there's no report that this particular guy was ever given to the USA. He was interrogated by iraqis, and the iraqi government made the announcement that is so far for me the only evidence that he ever existed.

Do you believe the iraqi government would let him be tortured? He revealed some time-critical information that presumably saved iraqi lives. They had every reason to think he knew such secrets. Do you suppose they'd torture him, or they wouldn't, or that we shouldn't guess at that unless we get solid evidence?

How much credence should we give this report that says he confessed?

J Thomas, if you're looking into US- sponsored and approved torture, I highly recommend the book "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror" by Alfred W. McCoy. He's a history professor who came to the problem of CIA torture through his work on the military and police forces of the Philippines in the 1900s, and it's very interesting stuff.

"CB, I looked at the 2006 article that the redstate guy claimed was lying."

The "redstate guy" is Charles.

I couldn't find a date on that post, but it seemed by internal reference to be sometime in early 2006.

Charles: "I do read the Independent from time to time, but no longer Cockburn, and I think less of the newspaper for employing him."

I'm certainly glad that you're available, Charles, to correct Patrick Coburn's misapprehensions about Iraqi militias, and the Iraqi government/US dynamic, given that he's only spent years in Iraq, reporting first-hand, whereas you have the expertise of the blogosphere available to you, and are thus able to be far more aware of what is and isn't accurate description and attribution of the Iraqi actors.

Oh, and points for refusing to read the writing of someone with a different perspective from yours, who reports stuff that pisses you off: that's always an excellent way to increase the accuracy of one's own perceptions. Blinders really can improve focus no end, after all, which is why they're so popular.

"CB, I looked at the 2006 article that the redstate guy claimed was lying."

The "redstate guy" is Charles.

Oh my. I wouldn't have been so blunt about how inadequate the rebuttal was if I'd realised it was him. I'm so embarrassed.

Do you have evidence that they were not, Charles?

So you have no evidence, d+p+m. OK. Just in case not everyone knows, I'm against inhumane treatment and coercive techniques, the only exception being the "ticking time bomb" situation. In short, my positions are pretty much identical to McCain's. As for the al Qaeda members captured, I'd rather see some evidence that they were tortured or inhumanely rather than just making grand assumptions about it.

If you're basing your claims on US Army press releases, that's ok. That's all I was wondering, if you were doing that or not.

There're more sources than just the Scotsman, Tayi, and BBC has an uneven history of identifying bombing attacks as suicide bombings. To me, the distinction is vital in understanding the players involved. The LA Times described the attacks as "five synchronized suicide bombings", which is an al Qaeda trademark. The LA Times (in a different article) suicide bombers as Sunni extremists, half of whom were Saudis.

In the wiki link, Human Rights Watch identified the suicide bombers as al Qaeda and Ansar al Sunnah: "The groups that are most responsible for the abuse, namely al-Qaeda in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic Army in Iraq, have all targeted civilians for abductions and executions. The first two groups have repeatedly boasted about massive car bombs and suicide bombs in mosques, markets, bus stations and other civilian areas."

The Islamic Army of Iraq is a Sunni insurgent group, but not affiliated with al Qaeda. The Islamic State of Iraq, however, is affiliated with the terrorists. Beyond this, there is no evidence that Baathists or Shiites of any stripe have conducted suicide terrorist attacks in Iraq. Hezbollah has representatives there, but there've been no reports of them being involved or claiming responsibility.

Here's a post on the Golden Mosque bombing from Egram.

All those who think the intent of CB's three most recent posts is not some iteration of "the surge is working," please speak up.

Phil, try reading the actual words instead of the words that you fanatasize are there. I am so done with your irrational and emotional outbursts.

Charles, by what benchmarks do you intend to evaluate the current strategy at year's end?

The term I used was "discernible progress", Steve. This would include political progress (which would continued local advances and at least the oil legislation and some progress on de-Baathification and power-sharing) and the 18 benchmarks. I would look at casualties and attacks. I would look at economic growth (which is an outgrowth of a more stable and secure environment). I would look at the state of the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police, and specifically how many have achieved Level 2 status or better. I would look at the flow of people (whether they're fleeing or returning to their homes). I don't have specific end-goals because I'll be looking more at how the trendlines are going.

"I'm so embarrassed."

Actually, I think these are entirely legitimate and apposite questions to ask Charles:

To say that the Independent is wrong, don't you have to uncritically accept DoD press releases? And as late as 2006, could any reasonable person do that?
Charles?

I'll also note again an obvious point: Charles finds the Independent a highly credible source on Iraq when it reports something he wants to cite, like Sadr having links to Hezbollah ("links" is such a wonderfully flexible word: it can connect almost anyone, while blurring all connotation into something incriminating sounding, while also describing, say, Ronald Reagan having sent Ayatollah Khomeini a cake via Robert McFarlane, which is evidence of Khomeini-Reagan links!; hell, Reagan sold TOW missile parts to Iran, weapons in some cases used by the Quds Force! I say we bomb the Reagan Library now, before it's too late -- after all, they declared war on us, haven't you noticed!?), but when it comes to the Independent's chief Iraq correspondent, they're so unreliable, we mustn't even read it, it could so pollute our brains and render us insensate with rage.

Anyway, this thing of taking everything said by an American military spokesperson (PAO) as gospel, because, gosh, it would be unpatriotic, and terrorsymp-liberal-traitor-like, to think of questioning anything said by a member of the U.S. military speaking on duty, is a seemingly universal phenomena on the pro-war right, and I, for one, would find it educational if Charles would clarify his views on whether there's ever any reason to doubt words coming from a PAO or higher rank as in any way serving any agenda but god's own truth.

And to speed up the conversation, I'd ask him what his views are of how the public was served by the briefings put forth by the U.S. military and the U.S. government during the Vietnam war, and how credible does he believe them to have typically been.

Oh, and points for refusing to read the writing of someone with a different perspective from yours, who reports stuff that pisses you off: that's always an excellent way to increase the accuracy of one's own perceptions.

Gary, Cockburn's misreporting is even eregious because he was there. Iraqi troops were leading the attacks. If you think it's useful to read someone who so easily distorts what takes place, be my guest. For me, I'd rather spend my time more usefully.

"The Islamic State of Iraq, however, is affiliated with the terrorists."

You're saying that "the terrorists" is an identical set to "Al Qaeda in Iraq"? There aren't any other terrorists in Iraq?

I've never fathomed the generic "the terrorists" usage, as if there were One Set. What do you mean by it, Charles?

I'd just like to take this opportunity to make the following prediction: in the not too distant future, the phrase "throw good money after bad" will be superceded by the single word "surge".

Surge (serj) v.
The act of allocating additional resources to a doomed project in order to delay the inevitable admission of failure.

"Iraqi troops were leading the attacks."

Charles, I'm not one to spend time questioning whether or not al Qaeda did or not commit a specific bombing, as others have been debating with you, because I don't see how it matters one way or another as to the large issues, the ones that matter.

But on this question, since you bring it up, I can't see how you could possibly know for a fact who was and wasn't in front in the particular action that Cockburn reports. I'm willing to give him more credence then you, certainly, because he was in a position to be talking first-hand to more than one source who was there, and you are not, but I certainly can't say that I know for a fact that he's correct, or incorrect, one way or another. Nor can I say for sure whether you are correct or not.

What I can say for sure is that I don't believe you can know for a fact what happened, and yet you are insistent that you do.

Respectfully, that sort of thing doesn't lend credibility to your claims, or judgment, with me.

I can believe that Cockburn is mistaken, or perhaps was willfully slanting his reports to some degree, or that he was mislead and gulled by sources with an ax to grind.

But I have even less trouble finding it plausible that U.S. military public affairs officers might want to underplay U.S. involvement in an action against Shia in the Sadrite slums of Baghdad, and overplay Iraqi initiative. I have no trouble finding that plausible at all.

Whereas your outrage that anyone might question an official U.S. source only undercuts your own credibility as to your own independent ability to analyze what the interests of various parties are in slanting stories, and where the truth may or may not lay. In your version, there's apparently just one truth: the official U.S. truth.

Well, darned if that isn't incredibly naive and silly, just as much as a kneejerk leftist who assumes that everything said by a U.S. spokesperson must be a lie, to serve the interests of the oil companies!!!!!, would be, to make such a one-sided assumption.

Thus my previous question to you about how much faith you put in official spin.

Let me say, though, that I do very much appreciate that you're under no obligation to hang around and take fire from a variety of people, and I thank you for taking the time to respond, and to discuss these things.

It bears repeating: al Qaeda chose Iraq as the central front in its war against us

It bears repeating: al Qaeda should have had no choice as to the central front in its war against us. Al Qaeda should now, six years after 9/11, almost ten years after their declaration of war against the US, not exist. They should be history.

It also bears repeating that Al Qaeda had no, absolutely no, significant presence in Iraq prior to our invasion.

The only thing that matters is is there an Iraqi government that's generally recognized as non-sectarian, legitimate, representative, and at least semi-competent, by Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds alike?

Until the answer is, if not "yes," at least "it's clearly headed in that direction," then one can diddle around with any numbers one likes, to one's heart's content, and it's all dust in the wind.

Anyone who believes they're meaningful measures of anything worth measuring, is fooling themselves. Again.

I have nothing to add to Gary's comments.

Thanks -

As for the al Qaeda members captured, I'd rather see some evidence that they were tortured or inhumanely rather than just making grand assumptions about it.

I'm not sure what is behind the adjective "grand" there, Charles, although I'm pretty sure I don't like the smell of it (as a programmer, I'm sure you get the drift of that if you're up on the latest jargon).

In terms of assumption, it is a perfectly reasonable assumption. There have been umpteen cases of Iraq police and IAF torture, assassination, kidnapping, and murder, so I'm not sure why the idea of this particular prisoner being tortured is such a stretch.

At any rate, this discussion is a sideshow to the main event. Carry on.

Charles Bird says: Just in case not everyone knows, I'm against inhumane treatment and coercive techniques, the only exception being the "ticking time bomb" situation. In short, my positions are pretty much identical to McCain's.

Those two sentences contradict each other: McCain has voted to make torture legal by sanctioning the use of certain torture techniques against American prisoners. So either Charles is against torture, or his positions are "pretty much identical to McCain's" and he's OK with torture. It can't be both.

I agree this is a sideshow, though. And I suspect Charles vaguely thought McCain was against torture, rather than wanting to associate himself with McCain's legalization of torture.

"against American prisoners"

- against prisoners held by the US, who are mostly not Americans. Sorry for the confusion.

You're saying that "the terrorists" is an identical set to "Al Qaeda in Iraq"?

Nope. I typically (but not every time) refer to the suicide bombers as being part of al Qaeda & Co. or al Qaeda & affiliates or al Qaeda & like-minded groups, because the groups are a loose affiliation that share a common ideology and modes of operation.

As for Cockburn, Gary, he'd rather take statements from al Sadr's righthand men at face value and transmit that "news" unquestioningly. Those poor victimized Sadrists! Quite frankly, I'm surprised that you believe that his clearly overt bias is a reporting contribution of value, any value. If it's all the same to you, I'll place a little less reliance on Sadrists and more on MNF-Iraq.

During the July 7 raid, Iraqi security forces – using night-vision gear and operating from 18 up-armored vehicles -- moved into Eastern Baghdad ; the area in which Iraqi Intelligence services established as the location of the insurgent leader they were looking for.

"[This was] a very well-coordinated, well-executed operation," said Caldwell . "Iraqi security forces, in fact, planned this operation and then executed it themselves last night."

According to the general, in addition to the "significant criminal," four other individuals who were with criminal were also detained.

He added that at one point during the operation, a group of seven to eight insurgents moved toward the Iraqi forces, firing their weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades.

"At that point [Iraqi security forces] did, in fact, call in aerial support; they did use Coalition support aircraft to put three 105 rounds into that location," Caldwell said. "That action neutralized that threat, dispersing [the insurgents]. It was noted that the entire time they were operating there, the cordon force was receiving fire from multiple different positions."

When the extraction of the criminal was completed, Iraqi forces brought all their vehicles back in and continued to receive gunfire as they drove out of the city.

Caldwell said the firefight lasted about 43 minutes, although the entire operation lasted several hours, from start to finish . He added that between 30 to 40 insurgents may have been wounded or killed during the operation.

He also stressed that during any operation, every measure is taken to avoid civilian casualties. Although, he added, there were no observed Iraqi civilian casualties from this operation.

During his briefing, Caldwell said the Iraqi security forces, specifically the Iraqi Army, planned, organized and executed the entire operation, operating independently of the Coalition forces, who were there only to support the Iraqi force as needed.

Do you have reason to believe that Gen. Caldwell was lying? To Cockburn, it doesn't matter that Iraqis planned and executed the raids, it's still the Americans' fault. To Cockburn, the Shia militants weren't angry that they were fighting fellow Iraqis for hours on end and lost 30 men, but boy, it really ticked 'em off that those infidel Americans provided a little air support! The audacity!

Do you have reason to believe that Gen. Caldwell was lying?

He was a US military officer making a press report in wartime. Why would you believe anything he says without independent verification from a reliable source?

Not to say Sadr's spokesmen would be reliable either.

Do you have reason to believe that Gen. Caldwell was lying?

Yep. Every single report has been "factually-challenged". Why accept this one?

If I where to sum up the general thrust of this entire thread, it would go like this:

Charles: If you look at these numbers, and take what American officials are saying at face value, things might possible be working. That's good!

Everyone else: Those numbers are inaccurate at best, deliberately cherry-picked by desperate liars at worst, and give utterly the wrong impression. Look, even taking a simple look at season context shows that things are getting worse. Everyone that isn't the Pentagon or the Army says things are getting worse. And frankly, let's face it -- the Pentagon and the Army have been lying (or "emphasizing the positive") to a ludicruous degree all along. How can you take them seriously?

Charles: Are you calling them liars? Why are you calling them liars? Things might be getting better.

Everyone else: I dunno, because they've lied in the past? A lot? Because what they're saying is contradicted by every iota of information coming from a seperate source? Seriously, you're trusting a bunch of people who have every reason to lie, a past history of lying, and whose current arguments to date don't hold water.

Charles: Yeah, but I think we should wait and see.

Everyone Else: Yeah, we suspect that "waiting and seeing" is what you're going to say three months from now, because it's what you said three months ago, and three months before that, and three months before that. Everytime this comes up, you claim "You see signs of progress" and stuff gets worse, and you come back claiming "But I see progress now".

If I where to sum up the general thrust of this entire thread, it would go like this:

Charles: If you look at these numbers, and take what American officials are saying at face value, things might possible be working. That's good!

Everyone else: Those numbers are inaccurate at best, deliberately cherry-picked by desperate liars at worst, and give utterly the wrong impression. Look, even taking a simple look at season context shows that things are getting worse. Everyone that isn't the Pentagon or the Army says things are getting worse. And frankly, let's face it -- the Pentagon and the Army have been lying (or "emphasizing the positive") to a ludicruous degree all along. How can you take them seriously?

Charles: Are you calling them liars? Why are you calling them liars? Things might be getting better.

Everyone else: I dunno, because they've lied in the past? A lot? Because what they're saying is contradicted by every iota of information coming from a seperate source? Seriously, you're trusting a bunch of people who have every reason to lie, a past history of lying, and whose current arguments to date don't hold water.

Charles: Yeah, but I think we should wait and see.

Everyone Else: Yeah, we suspect that "waiting and seeing" is what you're going to say three months from now, because it's what you said three months ago, and three months before that, and three months before that. Everytime this comes up, you claim "You see signs of progress" and stuff gets worse, and you come back claiming "But I see progress now".

"Do you have reason to believe that Gen. Caldwell was lying?"

Was lying? Not exactly.

Do I, however, have reason to believe that General Caldwell is less interested in a pure and abstract commitment to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and more interested in saying whatever will best play with Iraqis, and help the American forces? You betcha.

Do I have reason to believe that U.S. Army senior commanders, and military Public Affairs Officers have a record of lying all the hell over the place whenever it will serve their interests? You betcha! The Vietnam War has about 1,793,479,734 examples of that. Could that sort of thing be happening in Iraq to varying degrees? You betcha!

Why wouldn't it? Magic patriotic fairy dust? Human beings are now more perfect, and incapable of slanting and lying then they were forty years ago?

Do I have reason to think that the general would want to, as I already said, slant his version so as to over-emphasize Iraqi Army leadership in this action, and under-emphasize U.S. leadership? Yes, of course: all the reason in the world. Shi'ite Iraqis were enraged at the idea of Americans storming around in the Sadrite slums; they're considerably less outraged, though still so, at Iraqi troops doing it.

There's an obvious motive for why General Caldwell, and U.S. spokespeople might have distorted the truth, or in your words, "lied."

Did they? As I said, I have no idea. And neither do you. But you insist you know the truth, and I don't.

But you can't know the truth.

But you insist you do.

People tend to notice that.

You didn't respond to my queries about automatically believing as gospel anything put out by an American military source, or to the questions phrased by J Thomas:

To say that the Independent is wrong, don't you have to uncritically accept DoD press releases? And as late as 2006, could any reasonable person do that?
But you seem to be answering clearly, without answering, and you appear to have no problems assuming that if an American military source says something, it must be absolutely so.

I take it you also find it unthinkable that a PAO, let alone a General could, you know, lie his head off to the press?

I seriously urge yet more reading on the Vietnam War, and this time look into the record of U.S. military statements, claims from generals in the press, and how their statements compared to the truth.

(Not quite the same thing at all, but for fun, try this profile of General Westmoreland in 1965, to read all about how we're going to crush the North Vietnamese, woo-hoo.)

To Cockburn, it doesn't matter that Iraqis planned and executed the raids, it's still the Americans' fault.
You proclaim this as fact, but all you know is what you read in the newspapers, and you pick and choose which version to believe, based on what? Ideology? Patriotism?

Anyone making even the first steps on a journey to wisdom would recognize that you can't and don't know the truth, and that anyone proclaiming they do purely on the basis of their prejudices (an American general wouldn't lie!) is not being wise at all.

To Cockburn, the Shia militants weren't angry that they were fighting fellow Iraqis for hours on end and lost 30 men, but boy, it really ticked 'em off that those infidel Americans provided a little air support!
Heaven forfend you try weighing both versions, and concluding that you're not entirely sure what the truth is.

No, much better to simply resolve not to let the poisonous output of the reporter further affect you in any way, and just never read anything he ever says again. That's definitely going to lessen any potentional cognitive dissonance with the Official Version, which must be 100% truth!

Trust the government. Love the government. The government speaks only truth.

Big Brother loves you, Charles.

Never question the Truth of the government, and you'll never have to worry, Charles.

Pleasant dreams.

You're saying that "the terrorists" is an identical set to "Al Qaeda in Iraq"?

Nope. I typically (but not every time) refer to the suicide bombers as being part of al Qaeda & Co. or al Qaeda & affiliates or al Qaeda & like-minded groups, because the groups are a loose affiliation that share a common ideology and modes of operation.

I'd be appreciative if you might answer the full question, perhaps:
You're saying that "the terrorists" is an identical set to "Al Qaeda in Iraq"? There aren't any other terrorists in Iraq?

I've never fathomed the generic "the terrorists" usage, as if there were One Set. What do you mean by it, Charles?

"I typically (but not every time) refer to the suicide bombers as being part of al Qaeda & Co. or al Qaeda & affiliates or al Qaeda & like-minded groups"

What, every time there's a suicide bombing in the world, you blame "al Qaeda & co."? That must leave an awful lot of disappointed Sri Lankans.

And I asked you about the usage "the terrorists," not about suicide bombers: what's the connection, precisely?

I'm asking you to define your language, please. What is the definition of the generic usage, which you continue to use in ways as mysterious as anyone using this peculiar usage, "the terrorists"?

It should be a simple question. What do you mean by those two words, and whom are you referring to, precisely?

Everyone Else: Yeah, we suspect that "waiting and seeing" is what you're going to say three months from now, because it's what you said three months ago, and three months before that, and three months before that. Everytime this comes up, you claim "You see signs of progress" and stuff gets worse, and you come back claiming "But I see progress now".

Tosh tosh, don't you know that's "completely wrong on the facts"?

OCSteve: This pretty much sums up why there's the piling on.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


  • visitors since 3/2/2004

December 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      
Blog powered by Typepad

QuantCast