14 apr. 2008

The Triangular Viewpoint On The War In Iraq


March 21 2008 will be seen in history as the day of the truth about the surge in Iraq. The Washington Post reported:
“Graham and others opened the door for Petraeus and Crocker to match White House rhetoric on the ongoing threat from al-Qaeda in Iraq and the rising menace of Iran. But while Petraeus noted that the recent Iraqi government offensive in Basra against the Iranian-backed Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr illustrated Tehran's malign influence, Crocker repeated something he said in September: Persian Iran is up to no good in Iraq, but its role there is limited by deep Arab Iraqi antipathy.
Both Petraeus and Crocker described the Basra operation as a positive demonstration of Iraqi sovereignty and military determination, though one with operational flaws.
Petraeus confirmed that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had rejected his advice to delay the offensive until Iraqi troops were better prepared.
"There is no question that it could have been better planned," Petraeus said. He agreed that the 1,000 Iraqi army troops and police who either deserted or refused to fight were "a disappointment." But, he added, thousands of others had fought well, particularly in other areas of southern Iraq where simultaneous violence also broke out.”

Attend that where Nouri al-Maliki called the militia of Moqtada al-Sadr “Iranian backed groups of criminal bandits,” but he could not defeat them in Basra with 50,000troops of his official Iraqi army. Petraeus and Crocker witnessed that Maliki’s Shiite-dominated Government is reluctant to put the 90,000 Sunni security volunteers on its payroll. These fighters, former insurgents and now called the Awakening Movement, diminished the influence and numbers of al-Qaeda, knowing where to find end how to fight them, and the United States are still funding them, because they are the cornerstone of the surge.
Senator Barbara Boxer said: “I’m just asking you [Petraeus] why you would object to asking [Iraq] to pay for that entire program, given all we are giving them in blood and everything else.”
Petraeus responded: “It is a very fair question and I think that if there’s anything that ambassador Crocker and I will take back to Iraq candidly after this morning’s session and this afternoon’s is, in fact, to ask those kind of questions more directly.”
David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker had nothing to say but there is significant progress but fragile, reversible and there is no light in the tunnel. The conclusion must be that we are confronted with the reality: the war in Iraq is a black hole.
That is one point of the triangle.

Compared with the experts on the ground, the commanding general and the US ambassador in Iraq, the vision of the senators Lieberman, Graham and McCain is a different one and far more optimistic.
Senator Joe Lieberman scoffed at war skeptics for embracing what he called a see-no-progress, hear-no-progress, speak-no-progress view of the war. "According to some, we should fire you," Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) told the witnesses. "It sounds like... really nothing good has happened in the last year and this is a hopeless endeavor. Well, I beg to differ." "We are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, success is within reach." said the presumed GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). Here we meet the conclusion: the circumstances are fine and we are settled for another 100 years. They cited various indicators of what they consider success. "Weekly security incidents" are down to 2005 levels – at least until last week, before Maliki’s attack on Basra. Civilian deaths, according to U.S. military figures, have fallen to early 2006 levels. Bombings are down to mid-2006 levels. The number of Iraqi battalions taking the lead in operations is up 20 percent since January 2007. The Sunni opposition to Al Qaeda in Iraq within Anbar province remains strong. Several pieces of legislation important to national political reconciliation have moved forward in the Iraqi parliament. A budget was passed with record amounts of capital expenditures. And, as Crocker noted, Iraq's Council of Representatives approved a redesign of the Iraqi flag. Their message: We must stay the course.
This is the second point of the triangular viewpoint."

Then there is another way to look at the reality. Troops are sitting back, mostly hiding in the tunnel during signs of unrest, with no light backwards and no light ahead. They hired 90,000 Sunni insurgents for 10 dollar a day each to fight al-Qaeda, while there is a ceasefire in the civil war and in stead of negotiating and building a democratic government and political practice Maliki attacks his political opposition with the Iraqi army, but does not succeed to overcome his opponent. This is no progress. It is a mess. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) remarked that the testimony from Petraeus and Crocker, who each claimed there has been significant though fragile progress in Iraq, "describes one Iraq while we see another." Also McCain could have said that, meaning the opposite. In his opening remarks, senior Senator and chairman Levin noted, that the main purpose of the surge – to provide Iraqi leaders breathing room to hammer out a political settlement – “has not been achieved," and he argued that "our current open-ended commitment is an invitation to continuing [Iraqi] dependency." He blasted the "incompetence and excessively sectarian leadership" of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and noted Iraq was not spending the billions of dollars in surplus it has obtained thanks to rising oil prices, leaving the American taxpayers (who are forced to pay up to $4.00 a gallon for gas) paying for tens of billions of reconstruction within Iraq. He cited a State Department report that noted that "the intransigence of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government [is] the key threat facing the U.S. effort in Iraq, rather than al-Qaida terrorists, Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias." And he said that he was recently informed that of 110 joint U.S.-Iraqi operations of company size or greater in Iraq in the first three months of 2008, Iraqi forces assumed the lead in only 10 of those missions. If the military operations of the Iraqi army are up with 20%, you can do the math that this is too few to mention. Kennedy wondered when Iraqi forces – the recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. assistance – are "ready to fight on their own." And they can not fight with any success “some groups of bandits” scattered over the harbour of Basra. Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) noted that the "awakening" in Anbar started before the escalation of U.S. troops in Iraq, and he shared his concern that the war was producing serious "strain" for the military.
This vision is the third point of the triangular viewpoint on the war of Iraq.

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