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July 10, 2007

Resurging “The Surge”
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:37 AM * 64 comments

Today on CNN we have the headline White House touts ‘retooled’ Iraq mission, which leads to this story:

Under pressure, White House predicts ‘new way’ in Iraq

In that story we read this fascinating bit:

Sources inside and outside the White House told CNN that discussions are taking place about what the alternative U.S. policy in Iraq would be if the troop increase does not work as planned.

And my instant reaction was, “They’re only thinking of that now?!

Comments on Resurging "The Surge":
#1 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:44 AM:

Buch/Cheney crisis management theory: wait until the situation becomes a crisis, then try to manage the PR about it.

It's going to work about the same way it has before: not.

#2 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:45 AM:

meet the new boss, same as the old boss

#3 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:47 AM:

But this new plan will work. It will. I do believe in spooks, I do I do I do. :)

Were on what, plan E, now?

#4 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:15 AM:

We are officially "post-Surge." So the Surge must have worked; q.e.d.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:17 AM:


CNN sure buried that paragraph, didn't they? Way down the page, after all the fluff.

My cubie's response was exactly - word! - the same as yours.

#6 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:26 AM:

I think it's magical groupthink - alternatives to the Plan are considered disloyal.

We saw this with the Iraq War, where "Failing to plan is planning to fail" turned into "Planning for failure creates failure".

#7 ::: GiacomoL ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:29 AM:

We are approaching the end of the (6-months) Friedman, so they need to define a narrative for the next Friedman. That is, another way of spinning the hard truth: Iraq is now under American colonial administration and it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Colonial administration requires troops, the only thing to debate is the excuse to keep them there without having to spell the word "protectorate". A few weeks are more than enough to hammer this out, so the Cheney administration is perfectly on time. I'm sure the new script will be ready by the end of the Friedman, with Swiss precision. Jim, you really shouldn't worry, your democracy is in safe hands.

#8 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:30 AM:

I'm not convinced they're thinking of anything more than "how do we blame the Democrats?" even now.

#9 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Typical of l'éminence grise Dick Cheney, operating out of his command bunker in the last refuge of a scoundrel: The patriotic pumpkin patch.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:46 AM:

First do it, then think about planning for it. That's as good a definition of 'arsy-versy' as I've ever encountered.

#11 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:24 PM:

I read something that gave me pause this morning, someone at Firedoglake (I think) pointing out that if the Cheney Administration manages a pull-out from Iraq, it couldn't be anything BUT a rout, because that's exactly the level of planning and coordination it will get from them.

#12 ::: Nina Katarina ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:44 PM:

Of course it's a new way! They've added extra Fresh Lemon Scent, and just a touch of Retsyn!

Completely different strategy.

#13 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:04 PM:

How about a surge in the other direction? Advance toward the rear. Carry out a strategic realignment of forces. Offer the Iraqis the opportunity to stand up as we stand down. Many policies of this kind recommend themselves.

We can give it some kind of good PR name, like Operation Run Like Hell, or Operation Sucks To Be You, Sunnis, or Operation Let The Bloodbath Continue Without Us, or Operation Lets You and Him Ethnically Cleanse One Another, or....

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:18 PM:

Albatross #13: "Iraqization" sounds like the ticket.

#15 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:33 PM:

I believe the standard support line is "We'll see this new strategy turn Iraq around in six months or so". That seems to be the magical amount of time. Not so far out that it seems unattainable, but far enough out that most people forget about the prediction by the time the six months have passed.

#16 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:46 PM:

This sounds so much like the German High Command's plan for the defense of Normandy after D-Day. Hitler wouldn't even think of planning for retreat; there was no need, his forces would be victorious, he just knew they would!

So, when the Allied breakout took place and the Germans had to retreat towards the German border, there was no defense line they could stop and reform in. There was the Siegfried Line, but it had been stripped of weapons earlier and not put rearmed.

Only the Allied armies outrunning their logistics train allowed the Germans the time they needed to build a defense.

Bush & Company are just like those Germans; they are certain that THIS plan will work in Iraq, there's no need for fallback plans or 'what if' thinking, they just KNOW it will work! We're on Plan D now, right?

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Greg @ 15

I believe that that's now being called a 'Friedman unit'. It's sort of indefinite, like a 'Sagan' is 'billions and billions'.

#18 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:09 PM:

PJ Evans @ 17:

No, a Friedman is six months. I believe it was Atrios (Duncan Black) who was responsible for defining the unit.

#19 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:12 PM:

PJ Evans @ 17:

No, a Friedman is six months. It was Atrios (Duncan Black) who was responsible for defining the unit.

#20 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:09 PM:

It's not that they're only thinking of it now; it's that they're only talking about it now.

The game is simple: run out the clock, so that Bush can avoid having to admit failure and so that the Republicans can blame whoever does finally admit failure. It's an easy game to play, given the facts that (1) it is impossible to find 16 Republican Senators who are willing to override a veto and end the war, and (2) it is easy to find members of the Washington establishment who, at any moment, are willing to wait just another six months. Progress isn't important. What's important is being able to come up with some argument---not necessarily a plausible argument, just some argument-shaped object---for why the strategy of the moment will work real soon now.

There's just a year and a half to go before Bush will have successfully run out the clock. The "surge" was the first step---well, really it was the second. The first was the several months of delay while the Bush crowd said they were studying the issue to come up with a new strategy. That was the "surge". Originally we were told that we'd know whether it had succeeded within N months. But then, after that seeming deadline had passed, we were told that they actually meant N months starting from the moment when all the troops got there, which hadn't happened yet.

So now we're into the next phase: a few more months of study to float the idea that we need a new plan, then another few more months to implement it, and after that we'll have to give it six more months to see if it has worked.

Failing to mention the possibility of plan B until the middle of 2007 is just part of this sick game. It'll only take one or two more rounds and Bush will have achieved the goal of making the Iraq disaster someone else's problem.

#21 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:14 PM:

Thus Greg: 'I believe the standard support line is "We'll see this new strategy turn Iraq around in six months or so".'

So it will all be over by Christmas?

[shudder, weep]

#22 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:25 PM:

#20 Matt:

I suspect this is also behind the Democrats' eagerness to encourage an earlier pullout. It's likely that there will be a Democrat in the white house in 2009, and she'd probably rather not have her first few months be defined by those media images of the humiliating pullout, bloodbath of those of our former friends who don't manage to get out before we do, and massacre of undefended civilians surrounded by the wrong ethnic/religious group. Though no matter whose watch it happens on, there's no way to spin the Iraq war as not being Bush's policy.

IMO, the pullout is going to get truly ugly. Nobody wants it to land on them. If that results in a few hundred more Americans dead, and a few tens of thousands more Iraqis dead, well, that's a price that a variety of political leaders are prepared to pay.

#23 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Ken Brown #21: So it will all be over by Christmas?

Absolutely. Christmas 2008.

#24 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:42 PM:

Enter Captain Edmund Blackadder, USMC.

BALDRICK: This is my rifle and this is my gun,
One is for fighting, the other for fun.

BLACKADDER: Private Baldrick, that's a turnip.

BALDRICK: Only since I trapped it in the door, sir.

BLACKADDER: And what did Corpsman Cheney say?

BALDRICK: Keep doing it until it gets better, sir.

#25 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:55 PM:


Actually, that's exactly what we need: A "50 Ways" getting-the-hell-out-of Iraq song. You know, "Sneak out the back, Jack; make a new plan, Stan. Just hop on the bus, Gus -- don't need to discuss much! Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free."

Just need to change one phrase -- "leave your lover".

"Get under cover"?

Doesn't scan.


#26 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 04:22 PM:

albatross @ 13

Let's call it Operation Enduring Freedom. They've been enduring it this long, awhile longer can't hurt ...

#27 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 04:24 PM:

John L @ 16

Godwinated by comment 16! A new land speed record!

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Next: Carpet bombing Laos and Cambodia.

And, confusingly, spraying defoliants over Anbahr Province.

#29 ::: thanbo ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 04:31 PM:

We did it before and we can do it again, And we can do it again.

This is the same administration that
a) predicted the Iraqis would greet us as liberators, while not actually planning for either
. i) a sufficient force to pacify the people, or
. ii) what to do if plan A didn't work;
b) cannot admit a mistake was ever made.

So if it didn't work, do it again is by necessity the modus operandi - to do something different (i.e. plan for the possibility of failure ahead of time) would be to admit that the old strategy (never mind the possibility of failure, go straight at 'em) was itself a mistake.

Not to mention that a failure would indicate that the initial idea [invade Iraq | create Surge] was a mistake itself.

Thus, planning either for failure now, or based on a past failure, would be admitting a mistake. And the PTB can't have that, oh no. There are no mistakes, no failures - only opportunities to do the same old thing again.

#30 ::: thanbo ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 04:43 PM:

Bruce: I don't think so. It's not the Germans qua NSDAP, it's the Germans qua Wehrmacht. Not a question of ideology or racial theory, but of military strategy and planning.

In fact, Wiki limits Godwin's law violations to "inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Hitler or Nazis." Further, it "does not apply to discussions directly addressing genocide, propaganda, or other mainstays of the Nazi regime".

So too here, we're talking about military strategy, so comparison to other overconfident military strategies is entirely appropriate.

Thus, Godwination has not yet been achieved.

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 04:48 PM:

thanbo 30: Not to mention that propaganda is the only thing that's kept the Cheney administration's approval numbers out of single digits, and the fact that the ethnic cleansing going on right now in Iraq is a type of genocide.

#32 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 04:56 PM:

Bruce Cohen (#27): xkcd on almost exactly this situation.

#33 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 05:03 PM:

The problem's with the democrats, he said to me
Those silly hippies all think they still are free.
Besides they just can't understand: they live in reality.
There must be fifty ways to bug from Baghdad.

He said it's not may habit to just go and invade
At least before the lobbyists have managed to get paid
But 'til the escorts get here (so I can go get laid):
There must be fifty ways to bug from Baghdad
Fifty ways to bug from Baghdad.

Declare victory, Lee
Head for Kuwait, Nate
You don't need to win, Finn
Just say that you won.
Get on a plane, Kane
You don't have to explain
Next quarter will tell, Belle,
And say that you won.

He said it grieves me that you're polling down so low
And hearing all the hippies say 'I told you so,'
But there's one thing that you really have to know
About the fifty ways.

He said you can announce it that you have a master plan
Then blame your blunders on those fellows in Iran
Before you know it you'll discover that you can
Find fifty ways to bug from Baghdad

Declare victory, Lee
Head for Kuwait, Nate
You don't need to win, Finn
Just say that you won.
Get on a plane, Kane
You don't have to explain
Next quarter will tell, Belle,
Then say that you won.

#34 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Shrub does the 'listening to the commanders' bit one more time:
Bush: Commanders trump politicians on war strategy

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House announced Tuesday that an upcoming progress report will result in "the beginning of a new way" in Iraq, but President Bush said military commanders, not politicians, will show the way forward.

President Bush said Tuesday military commanders, not politicians, will lead a "new way" forward in Iraq.

Six months after announcing an increase of nearly 30,000 U.S. troops that became known as the "surge," Bush told a town meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday that the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has only had the troops he requested for "a few weeks" and needs time to show results.

Bush thinks he's actually listening to his commanders.
I think I'd prefer listening to Lt Riley doing 'Kathleen' one more time.

#35 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Ah well, better late than never, eh? Not.

#36 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Bush, having fired anyone who told him something he didn't want to hear, is listening to the commanders.

Oh, good.

#37 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Bush, having fired anyone who told him something he didn't want to hear, is listening to the commanders

Oh, yes, he listens to his generals:
..Ex-surgeon general says Bush officials kept information from public
..President Bush Muzzled First Surgeon General on Science Topics
..Former Surgeon General Was Muzzled, Censored By Bush Administration...

after first choreographing what they'll say.

#38 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 05:26 PM:


Damn it, I am truly sick of hearing Bush say he's "listening to the commanders." For one thing, it's bullshit (Shinseki?) and for another thing, it is too obviously a set up for blaming the military when, at long last, after many more dead, we finally pull out of Iraq.

I would like to hear the Democrats respond by pointing out that in our system of government the military follows policies set by the civilian government, and that it is the responsibility of that civilian government to provide the military with clear objectives based on policies which make sense, for some reality-based value of sense. Can anyone tell me WTF "Win in Iraq" means this week?

I thought not.


#39 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 05:29 PM:

But Jim, it will be such a lovely chorus.

#40 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Jim Macdonald #36: I just heard the Shrub say that he wanted to listen to General Petraeus. Yesterday, General Petraeus spoke to the BBC.

#41 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 05:40 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #39: Chorus? Or echo chamber?

#42 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Just finished Thomas E. Ricks' Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. It's pretty clear from this book that the knowledge to successfully wage this war* is out there in the armed forces and government, but the Maladministration refuses to apply it systematically, instead encouraging individual commanders to follow their own strategies, usually "Kill everything with massive firepower" and "Hide in our fortified bases"; perfectly contrary to established counter-insurgency practice.

One can only speculate about the state of mind required to ignore all established knowledge on a subject and instead follow half-arsed ideological cant, even when it clearly doesn't work.

*Or at least not make such a spectacular cock-up of it.

#43 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Oh, I found the Petraeus item. The BBC must have moved it.

I see that the "new strategy" is, in fact, the old one that they should have been following since they first started using the word insurgent, that in fact Patreaus' 101st followed in the North of Iraq until they were cycled out.

#44 ::: Michael Ehart ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 07:32 PM:

No real plan will ever be implemented for withdrawl as long as there is oil to pump and chests to thump.
The only solace I can take is unless the Democrats nominate a cherrystone clam there will be a change in Jan 2009.
They wanted their Viet Nam redo and got it.

#45 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 07:38 PM:

"They wanted their Viet Nam redo and got it."

Ooh! Oooh! Can we get our Watergate redo?

#46 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:49 PM:

Wonderful. The only change is the ... hmph. Apparently there actually is no real change.


#47 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2007, 02:53 AM:

Another Petraeus/BBC story is at this link: US Iraq chief warns of long war. The link section @ 40 didn't seem to have a specific page it linked to.

#48 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2007, 03:35 AM:

albatross at #22 writes:

> Though no matter whose watch it happens on, there's no way to spin the Iraq war as not being Bush's policy.

I agree with the first part of your post, but not the bit above. I hate to think about it, but I have a dreadful feeling that the war is the "fault" of whoever is holding the parcel when the music stops.

#49 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2007, 03:46 AM:

"This is the same administration that
a) predicted the Iraqis would greet us as liberators, while not actually planning for either
. i) a sufficient force to pacify the people, or
. ii) what to do if plan A didn't work;
b) cannot admit a mistake was ever made."

It's even worse than that. We had a plan for point a.i, and Rumsfeld threw it out:

"Here Mr. Rumsfeld, with the obvious approval of Cheney and Bush, tampered and tinkered with literally everything. He threw out a war plan, which had been drawn up based on everything the generals had learned about war in that part of the world, that called for an invasion force of 450,000 American and allied troops. Mr. Rumsfeld determined that a figure of something like 100,000 would be more than enough and threw out five years of planning and war games."

Whether the war is justified or not, the way it is being carried out is, at least, reckless and irresponsible.

#50 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2007, 07:42 AM:

George Bush is going to let the general's decide strategy, instead of politicians up in Washington? But... but... isn't he forgetting something?

Oh, I guess he does remember.

#51 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2007, 08:09 AM:

Malthus @25:

How about "50 ways to run for cover"

#52 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2007, 10:39 PM:

Actually, we only know that they're talking about thinking about a Plan B, not that they're actually thinking. In exactly the same way that we're told Monkey Boy thought long and hard and deliberate-like about commuting Scooter's sentence.

Scooter. I still can't get over a grown man using that name, but especially a grown man in the Vice-President's office...

#53 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2007, 11:31 PM:

Michael @ 52

He worked in the President's office before that. I don't know if that makes it better or worse.

#54 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2007, 01:00 AM:

Actully, I think we're supposed to be pleased that they're thinking (or thinking about talking) about it now, rather than waiting until after they've read the Field General's Report in September. After all, these are Important People, and shouldn't need to waste their time and energy (thinking is hard, you know) on something that might not be necessary.

#55 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2007, 05:13 AM:

I enjoyed CNN's headline, and wonder what those White House touts will be getting up to next.

Strangely, White House tools 'retouted' Iraq mission would have made just as much sense.

#56 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Hey, I'll have you know that over in Wall Street Journal land, the surge is working!

Closing sentence:

"Demands for withdrawal are no longer demands to pull out of a deteriorating situation with little hope; they are now demands to end a new approach to this conflict that shows every sign of succeeding."

This is then followed by a footer giving various background info about the writer, which somehow neglects to mention that the writer was one of the architects of the surge. (See the credits slide on the AEI "surge" Powerpoint proposal from last fall; she's on it, and her husband is also on it as lead author.)

#57 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2007, 01:12 PM:

And Shrub's press thingie this mornign was more of the same cr*p he's been handing them for the last three-plus years.

One change: He's now trying to blame the Iraqis for the problems.

The reporters didn't ask him questions about that, they just drank it all down.

#58 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2007, 02:28 PM:

#56 John:

What is it with the white house and husband/wife teams doing the intelligence/war planning thing? I'm cool with the need for two incomes in the DC area and all, but doesn't that kind of make debate of plans and ideas a little uncomfortable? ("Darling, your plan for de-baathification is nuts. And you don't pick up your damned underwear off the floor, either.") And doesn't it also undermine financial independence a bit, since if you p--s off the boss, both of you lose your jobs at the same time?

It's often a good idea to have some independence of thought among different thinkers in your organization. It's almost always a good idea to have independent sources of information in trying to decide the facts about a big policy question, especially if you're going to be betting a lot on being right. Why do I know this, but the people planning the war and invasion and occupation and running the effort to discover if Iraq has nukes don't know that?

#59 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2007, 02:40 PM:

#57 PJ:

Of course it's the Iraqis' fault! If they'd just greeted us with candy and flowers, and settled down to become a spontaneous liberal democracy, toppling all the "dominoes" of the rest of the middle east regimes into liberal democracies as well, imagine how good Bush would look right now. We'd be calling him a modern Churchill.

Damned ingrates. We go to all the trouble and ruinous expense of invading their country, blowing all kinds of stuff up with smart bombs and cruise missiles at a million bucks a pop, kill a bunch of their people, and kick off a brutal civil war, and all they can do is complain.

#60 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2007, 04:05 PM:

albatross @ 58: They're two of 17 participants mentioned in the credits, and they both do have some expertise in the general area of military history and science. So actually I don't consider it unreasonable per se that a committee on military planning might include both of them, along with a bunch of other folks.

I just think a responsible publication should disclose the involvement of someone (and/or someone's close family) in the creation of a plan that they're writing an assessment of, if that involvement isn't obvious already. It can be appropriate in many cases for someone to review their own work, but readers should *know* that's what they're doing.

(My own disclosure: I know both of the Kagans from university, though we've not been in touch much in recent years.)

#61 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2007, 01:54 AM:

albatross: It's not well thought of, but we were greeted with flowers and kisses.

We had all the chance in the world to make this work, and we pissed it away, with all the speed we could manage.

#62 ::: Greta Christina ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2007, 03:45 AM:

“They’re only thinking of that now?!”

You know what this reminds me of? When Fidel Castro fell seriously ill last year. Here's an excerpt from the AP report:

(AP) -- The White House and Congress, caught unaware by Fidel Castro's illness, prepared Wednesday for a possible showdown in Cuba as lawmakers drafted legislation that would pay millions of dollars to dissidents who fight for democratic change.

The handover was a surprise to the White House and Congress, one senator said.

The president's comment was that everybody was caught by surprise, and we'll have to wait and see" what U.S. action is necessary, said Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, who discussed the developments with President Bush on Tuesday.

And my reaction: They didn't have a plan for what to do if Castro got sick? It caught them by surprise? The guy is 80 years old! It didn't occur to them that he might get sick and die soon? And besides... shouldn't they have a plan for what to do in case ANY MAJOR LEADER IN THE FREAKIN' WORLD gets sick or assassinated or has an anvil fall on his head or whatever?

We are so very, very fucked.

#63 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2007, 12:24 AM:

I found the unaccented contrast in NPR reportage very interesting. They repeated the observation that progress was made on 8/18 (?) benchmarks, and Bush's claim that we should not interfere with the generals; but nobody talked about the fact that the benchmarks that weren't being reached were the civil ones to which the only possible military contribution would be to go into the Iraqi parliament, tell them what they're going to vote for, and keep guns at everyone's heads until the votes were taken. (No, this wouldn't help; it would just be "progress".) Has anyone seen indications that the Cheney administration is doing \anything/ serious about the civil issues? I'd be surprised if it were, as it's shown no indication it understands the meaning of "diplomacy", or any ability to see that other people have other goals.

#64 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2007, 10:18 AM:

The best headline I saw was the one on the Pasaadena Star-News:
Report: Iraq Progress 'Spotty'

I've been avoiding the 'news' coverage on the grounds that I'd rather not read (or listen to) press releases from administration flacks.

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