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September 19, 2004: The rolling meme gathers speed ...

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Previously here the suggestion was that this week a new narrative started gathering momentum – a new meme, a newly accepted axiomatic sense of what is an actual fact.

That is the idea that we have lost the war in Iraq.  You saw it on the blogs, and then more and more in the major media – and it got a major push from Newsweek and media interviews its editors.  And this does not seem to be coming from the Democrats assailing Bush – but seem rather a simultaneous awakening by news folks and military folks.  Things are bad.

Thursday we see a major leap.  The White House has been sitting on an internal report since July – a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate – that says that there are only three possible scenarios now.  The best?  That would be “a tenuous stability” – but that’s unlikely.  The second?  That would be where “increased extremism and fragmentation in Iraqi society impede efforts to build a central government and adversely affect efforts to democratize the country.”  The third is an all out civil war in Iraq by 2005, where the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds have it out and we have to deal with that.  The document was first reported by the New York Times on its web site Wednesday night.

The Associated Press summary is here - and it is not pretty.

Much of this comes from, of course, a highly placed US official, who, late Wednesday, spoke on the condition of anonymity.  I wonder who that was, and if he or she has good insurance?  It does, after all, seem unwise to say this -


It "would be fair" to call the document "pessimistic," the official added. But "the contents shouldn't come as a particular surprise to anyone who is following developments in Iraq. It encapsulates trends that are clearly apparent."

The intelligence estimate, which was prepared for Bush, considered the window of time between July and the end of 2005. But the official noted that the document draws on intelligence community assessments from January 2003, before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the subsequent deteriorating security situation there.


So.  We shouldn’t be surprised, even as day after day the president tells us we are making progress in Iraq.

Well, if you say it again and again, and really believe it to be so, and if you keep your resolve and never waver, then you can magically make it so.  It’s that Tinkerbell thing again – clap loud and long enough and Tinkerbell won’t die, and a little fairy dust and you really can fly, if you believe strongly enough.  No wonder Bush will easily win the election.  We all want to fly off to Never-Never Land with that sexy little Tinkerbell.  We want to believe.  And we’ll toss aside that Kerry guy who says we should be realistic.  This is America after all, where, with hard work and never giving in to self-doubt, and with belief in yourself, you can be or do anything you want.  Anyone can be president, even George Bush.

And who wants to stomp on these dreams?  Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin and the leaders of the other intelligence agencies who approved this fifty-page intelligence document.  Losers, all of them.



In a conference call arranged by the John Kerry presidential campaign, Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., called on the White House to release the new assessment. "The American people need to know the truth," he said Thursday.


Do we?

AP does note that State Department officials stressed areas of progress in Iraq since the United States turned over political control of Iraq to an interim government on June 28.  They cited advances in generating electricity, producing oil and creating jobs.

Yep.  They used the word “advances” as you see.  But on the ground?

See We Are Losing The War In Iraq - quick summary from Oliver Willis.

Willis cites the Financial Times (UK) - hardly a lefty organization - saying we seem to have lost control of the one safe place for Americans in the capital, the Green Zone in Baghdad -


US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security company employees.

At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US officer in charge of the zone's perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers to prevent intruders penetrating the compound's defences.

The US major said it was possible weapons or explosives had already been stashed in the zone, and warned people to move in pairs for their own safety. The Green Zone, in Baghdad's centre, is one of the most fortified US installations in Iraq. Until now, militants have not been able to penetrate it.


Oh well.  How did Rumsfeld put it?  Stuff happens?  This seems to be an indication, with the “no go” zones mentioned previously, that things are getting far worse.  Perhaps we should take care of Iraq remotely, from Qatar or Bahrain, using remote drones and calling in air strikes.  We could relocate our Iraq embassy to, say, Portugal, where no one pays attention to anything.  Nothing much ever happens there.

Willis also cites the Bush-supporting Wall Street Journal as they report those fighting us are merging now into a unified force -


Iraqi government officials are especially concerned that the violence in Baghdad in the past week may be fueled in part by growing support for the insurgents in the capital and growing contact with rebel groups active in the countryside to Baghdad's north.

Many U.S. military and Iraqi government officials are focusing on the stronghold of Fallujah, which they suspect the rebels are using as an operational center to launch attacks west of Baghdad and within the city.

"The insurgents are no longer operating in isolated pockets of their own. They are well-connected and cooperating," said Sabah Kadhim, a senior adviser to Iraq's Interior Ministry, which oversees the police and security around the country.


Well, that is progress, but not the sort Bush is envisioning.  The folks who oppose us are getting quite organized.

And Willis points out an AP report that the attacks on our guys are getting far more sophisticated -


The spike in bloodshed - more than 200 dead in four days - has stifled American hopes that the transfer of sovereignty and the prospect of a democratic vote in four months could take the steam out of the uprising and pave the way for a reduction in U.S. troops.

Instead, there are signs the Americans and their Iraqi allies are facing an enemy more determined than ever. Insurgents have learned from past mistakes and shifted strategy, cooperating more closely with each other and devising new ways to put their relatively simple arsenal to treacherous use.


Yep, fewer random car bombs and more trained snipers, and carefully targeted car bombs.  Great.

Willis himself says this -


This is the story. Not the memos. Not the medals. Not even the vote to go to war or not (though who got us into this in the first place bears remembering). We are losing the war in Iraq. We can't secure the green zone - which is where all our people are - and the rest of the country is ripe with anti-American sentiment. This nonsense about handing over control to the Iraqis and having elections within the year is a sham. At best we would be handing the keys to a puppet regime with no mandate, at worst there will be a civil war. Either way, because we have never set a real exit strategy for Iraq, any move on our part gives the appearance of capitulation. It's not that the people of Iraq aren't smart enough to have a western-style democracy... it's pretty obvious that they don't want one. Even the moderates seem to have a preference for an Iranian style theocracy (the most powerful person in Iraq is Ayatollah Sistani).

At this point, with all the international commitments we have on our plate and the priority of destroying Al Qaeda and its support network, it may be time to limit the scope of Operation: Iraqi Freedom (elimination of chemical/biological/nuclear raw materials - what ever little bit there may be, and the destruction of the terrorist networks that have taken root in Iraq since we invaded) and set the timetable for our troops to be redeployed against Al Qaeda operating elsewhere, or in the case of reservists, to come home.


Iran and North Korea are fast developing nuclear weapons.  The Israeli-Palestinian standoff will explode again and again – and Sharon will bluster, with our help, and Arafat be as foolish as usual.  The world is running short on oil, and Putin is doing his Mussolini thing and stopping popular elections in the name of fighting terror.  We are carrying an enormous federal deficit that will impoverish us for decades, or end most government social programs.  Forty-four million of our people are without any health coverage, and millions more out of work.  And of course Al Qaeda is doing just fine and that Osama fellow is nowhere to be found, if he’s still alive, which may not matter now as his franchisees are thriving.

So what are we doing in Iraq?  We lost, or are well on our way to losing.  Of course the odious Saddam is gone, and his two thug sons.  But now what?

A line that always gets people from “The Man from La Mancha” is this - The only battles worth fighting are losing battles.  So noble, and so romantic.  And so stupid.

But we love it.  Kerry doesn’t stand a chance.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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