Want to know why nothing is going to change in Iraq? Beacuse the administration senses the dynamic has changed
- From: Jack Linthicum <jacklinthicum@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 01 Sep 2007 12:52:02 -0700
One of the certain signs of insanity is doing the same thing over and
over and expecting different results. A corollary is to expect the
change in results and plan accordingly.
A masterful con job
A couple of days ago, the NYT reported that the White House "is
growing more confident that it can beat back efforts by Congressional
Democrats to shift course in Iraq." It's not because conditions in
Iraq have improved, and it's not because the president's policy is
producing results, but because the administration has "a sense the
dynamic has changed."
It's all about some amorphous "sense" that's entirely independent of
reality. Consider what we've learned this week. The GAO prepared a
"strikingly negative" assessment of conditions on the ground, with no
political progress (the intended point of the "surge") and little
evidence of reduced violence. Of the 18 Iraqi benchmarks, Bush's
policy has come up short on 15. An independent federal commission
believes Iraq's 26,000-member national police force is beyond repair
and might need to be disbanded altogether. A working draft of a secret
document prepared by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad shows that the Maliki
government is rotten to the core. Iraqi civilian deaths are getting
worse, not better. The latest data shows U.S. troop fatalities worse
every month this year compared to the same months last year. A
smidgeon of evidence pointing to at least marginal political progress
late last week turned out to be smoke and mirrors.
It's against this backdrop that the White House and its conservative
allies boast, "See? This is the progress we've been waiting for." More
importantly, the conventional wisdom in DC is suddenly in agreement
that they're right.
How on earth is this happening? Kevin Drum explains that Gen. David
Petraeus has run a methodical political campaign that has produced
exactly the desired effect.
[Petraeus is] keenly aware of the value of both the media and
public opinion, and he did what any counterinsurgency expert would
have counseled in his circumstances: he unleashed a hearts-and-minds
campaign aimed at opinion makers and politicians. For months the
military transports to Baghdad have been stuffed with analysts and
congress members, and every one of them has gotten a full court press
of carefully planned and scripted presentations, tightly controlled
visits to favored units, and assorted dollops of "classified"
information designed to flatter his guests and substantiate his rosy
assessments without the inconvenience of having to defend them in
And it's worked.... Five months ago Petraeus was guaranteeing to
wavering Republicans that they'd see progress in August, precisely the
month when the PR campaign was scheduled to go into high gear. Today
he's issuing dire warnings about al-Qaeda hegemony and nine-dollar gas
if we leave, circulating bio pages that let his staff know whether
they're dealing with friend or foe among visiting congress members,
and insisting repeatedly that violence is down in classified briefings
where he doesn't have to publicly defend his figures.
If these don't sound like the actions of an honest broker to you,
they don't to me either. They sound like elements of a campaign with
one overriding purpose: to convince politicians and opinion makers
that we're making progress in Iraq regardless of whether we are or
As con jobs go, this is a masterful one.
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