Saturday, June 11, 2005


In their last throes (updated)

(Via Buzzflash) There's a good piece by Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe on the state of the Iraqi insurgency—
U.S. military officials have documented more disturbing trends.

The number of attacks involving suicide bombers, for example, rose from 25 percent in February to more than 50 percent in April, according to estimates provided by Pentagon officials, who asked not to be identified.

The first two weeks of May saw 21 suicide attacks in Baghdad alone; there were just 25 in all of 2004.

Meanwhile, two U.S. soldiers on average continue to die each day. Many more are wounded, and untold thousands of Iraqi civilians are being caught in the crossfire.

But it's the Cheney-as-madman section of the article that I wanted to mention—

... recent comments to that effect by Vice President Dick Cheney, who said on May 31 that the insurgency was in its "last throes," took many U.S. officials and analysts by surprise, Pentagon officials and others with extensive knowledge of the war said in a series of interviews. The available data, they said, simply do not support such a claim.

"That is the most extreme form of wishful thinking," said Michael O'Hanlon, a military specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "There is simply no basis for making that statement.

What it in fact is, is an extreme form of lying, cynicism and media manipulation. Cheney is no longer battling for control of Iraq; he's battling for control of the U.S. and trying to buy time. He knows that the broadcast media will dutifully convey his remarks and he has little choice but to put on a brave face.

It mirrored the Memorial Day script of George Bush—

Another generation is fighting a new war against an enemy that threatens the peace and stability of the world. Across the globe, our military is standing directly between our people and the worst dangers in the world, and Americans are grateful to have such brave defenders. (Applause.) The war on terror has brought great costs. For those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan and Iraq, today is a day of last letters and fresh tears. Because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, two terror regimes are gone forever, freedom is on the march, and America is more secure. (Applause.)

.... we must honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives, by defeating the terrorists, advancing the cause of liberty, and building a safer world. (Applause.)

Iraq is now a "terror regime," and Bush once again conflates Iraq with his War on Terror. These are not off-the-cuff remarks; Bush doesn't know that many words. This is a cynical, lying attempt to manipulate the public by whoever approved his speech.

They really are desperate, you know. And desperate people can be dangerous.

6/12/05 - 6:00 pm

I discovered that the link I posted yesterday was to a truncated version of Bender's article. I've changed the link to the complete version.

I had to wonder why the Arizona Central cut the last 10 paragraphs. My guess is that it was old news—that the U.S. has been trying to negotiate with elements of the Sunni insurgency. But the article briefly captures one more effort by the government to put a smiley face on the war—

... one positive sign, US and Iraqi officials assert, is that the representatives of the insurgents have even agreed to sit down face to face, something they had previously been unwilling to do.

And no good article on Iraq can omit a touch of black comedy—

US and Iraqi officials maintain that some insurgents -- particularly the foreign extremists led by Al Qaeda lieutenant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- cannot be negotiated with because they have too much blood on their hands.

What would the Democrats say if the Bushies get caught negotiating with al-Qaeda?

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