More (Negative) Progress in Iraq

While true believers like Donald Sensing continue to find reason to believe that things are getting better all the time in Iraq, the steady drip, drip of reality tells a different story. From the AP (via The Guardian): U.S. gen. pulls back on Iraq withdrawal.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Iraqi battalions capable of combat without U.S. support has dropped from three to one, the top American commander in Iraq told Congress Thursday, prompting Republicans to question whether U.S. troops will be able to withdraw next year.

Gen. George Casey, softening his previous comments that a “fairly substantial” pull out could begin next spring and summer, told lawmakers that troops might begin coming home from Iraq next year depending on conditions during and after the upcoming elections there.

“The next 75 days are going to be critical for what happens,” Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Bush administration says training Iraqi security forces to defend their own country is the key to bringing home U.S. troops. But Republicans pressed Casey on whether the United States was backsliding in its efforts to train Iraqis.

In June, the Pentagon told lawmakers that three Iraqi battalions were fully trained, equipped and capable of operating independently. On Thursday, Casey said only one battalion is ready.

“It doesn’t feel like progress,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post’s Robin Wright weighs in with this cheery item: More violence to follow, Bush warns.

Oh, hey, thanks for the warning, Mr. President. But you know what? We actually knew that already. In fact, we’ve known it for, oh, say, the last two years.


I found this part of the article especially disturbing:

For all the public confidence, however, the Bush administration in private is nervous about this sensitive last stage, which will establish whether Iraq’s disparate religious and ethnic factions can stay together in a single nation — and whether civil war can be avoided, according to U.S. officials and experts on Iraq.

The administration has come under growing pressure at home and abroad over the past two weeks, with dire warnings from Arab allies and a prominent international group about the looming disintegration of Iraq. In an unusual public rebuke of U.S. policy, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister called a news conference in Washington last week to predict Iraq’s dissolution. He said there is no leadership or momentum to pull Iraq’s Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds back together and prevent a civil war. Other countries have expressed similar concerns in private, according to U.S. and Arab diplomats.

Attention Bush team: You’re not getting Humpty back together again. He’s an omelette. In fact, he was an omelette in the summer of 2003. Now he’s a blackened crust that has charred onto the surface of the pan.

Bush is out of options. Iraq has been systematically turned into a failed state that will serve as a breeding ground for anti-US terror for years to come. Or, to trot out still another metaphor, Iraq is Louisiana, and Bush is Michael Brown on the weekend after the storm, doing the deer-in-the-headlights thing as he repeats the same empty phrases into the camera.

10 Responses to “More (Negative) Progress in Iraq”

  1. Rise Against Says:

    Here here! Well written JBC.

  2. vakil polevoy Says:

    Stop the War! I want to get off!

    Just where is the critical mainstream media? Are they really safeguarding our democracy? Seems to me that one of the most important stories of the week is being largely ignored by the media. That being the lies and distortions, virtual perjury being foisted upon us by the likes of Gen. George Casey, senior U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid, senior U.S. commander in the Frickin’ Middle East, and Gen Dick Myers, now retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Who, by the way, just this morning had just a marvelous going away (far far away I pray) party presented by President Bush and Defense(??) Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    More at

  3. TeacherVet Says:

    Nine-eight percent of the Iraqi people have registered to vote in the next election. Sunnis who boycotted the last election are flocking to the registration offices. Ninety percent state their intentions to cast their vote. Civil war might eventually result from the loss of power by the minority faction, but, in the meantime, should we not support their efforts to resolve their differences democratically?

    Oops, I forgot – we didn’t find any WMD.

  4. TeacherVet Says:

    If civil war erupts in Iraq, I sense a celebration among Democrats. Perhaps that event would finally provide the much sought-after gotcha moment – at the expense of the Iraqi people.

  5. jbc Says:

    Actually, I don’t think we’re suffering from any lack of “gotcha” moments in connection with the Iraq war.

    If you honestly believe that the election is going to magically solve the divisions currently tearing Iraq apart, then you must be looking forward to the time in a few short weeks when you’ll get to come in here and post “I told you so.” If that happens, my consternation at having been so wrong, while you, with all your apparent misplaced arrogance and trust in right-wing media sources, were so right, will be more than offset by my joy at having a slow-motion catastrophe that has been concerning me for years suddenly turning out okay.

    I don’t believe that’s going to happen, but I’m prepared to eat my words — happily — if it does.

  6. Rise Against Says:

    Don’t invade Iraq it will be a disaster, no it won’t, yes it will – Gotcha!

    Saddam doesn’t posses WMD’s, yes he does, no he doesn’t – Gotcha!

    “my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators [by the Iraqi people].” – Gotcha!

    (Rumsfeld) “The Iraq war could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” – Gotcha!

    “I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they’ve become much weaker; (3) we’ve become much stronger; and (4) now we’re playing for keeps.” – Gotcha!

    Well, I could go on and on and on.

    And the last thing anyone wants to see is Iraq spiral into civil war. I think enough people have died for this “noble cause” thank you very much.

  7. ethan-p Says:

    Ahahahaha — good one, Rise.

    Also remember that “the insurgency is in it’s last throes” – Gotcha! (although we heard many definitions of sexual relations, erm, throes after that one)

    I also recall Cheney or Rumsfeld saying something prewar about the idea of an insurgency being laughable. Gotcha on that one too.

    TeacherVet, why does this have to be so damn partisan with you? I feel that this strong sense of partisanship holds us back as a nation. There are more than just two views, you know.

  8. Rise Against Says:

    TeacherVet: Reagarding your “sunni” outlook of the upcoming election. I don’t know where you get your info, but i came acrros this today which casts serious doubts about your claim of sunni participation in the upcoming vote…


    BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 3 – Iraq’s Shiite and Kurdish leaders quietly adopted new rules over the weekend that will make it virtually impossible for the constitution to fail in the coming national referendum.

    The move prompted Sunni Arabs and a range of independent political figures to complain that the vote was being fixed.

    Some Sunni leaders who have been organizing a campaign to vote down the proposed constitution said they might now boycott the referendum on Oct. 15. Other political leaders also reacted angrily, saying the change would seriously damage the vote’s credibility.

    Under the new rules, the constitution will fail only if two-thirds of all registered voters – rather than two-thirds of all those actually casting ballots – reject it in at least three of the 18 provinces.

    The change, adopted during an unannounced vote in Parliament on Sunday afternoon, effectively raises the bar for those who oppose the constitution. Given that fewer than 60 percent of registered Iraqis voted in the January elections, the chances that two-thirds will both show up at the polls and vote against the document in three provinces would appear to be close to nil.

    “This is a mockery of democracy, a mockery of law,” said Adnan al-Janabi, a secular Sunni representative and a member of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s party. “Many Sunnis have been telling me they didn’t believe in this democratic process, and now I believe they are vindicated.”


    The only reason Sunni’s were flocking to the registration offices was an attempt to to defeat the vote on the consitition, that they feel jepordizes their interests.

    Nice spin though.

  9. enkidu Says:

    We are not leaving Iraq for decades. Get used to it. We broke it, we own it.

    Pop quiz:

    How many troops do we have in former-enemy-now-ally Japan?

    How many troops do we have in former-enemy-now-ally Germany?

    How many troops do we have in former-enemy-now-ally Korea?


    J 40,000
    G 75,000
    K 30,000

    source BBC, 2004
    some troops levels might have been drawn down to fuel shrub’s folly

    So in a decade how many US troops should we have in a country that is actively fighting back against our occupation? 30,000 to 75,000 (maybe double that). minimum. Will they still be blowing up our brave men and women in uniform in a decade? sadly I expect so…

    unless… well, we didn’t turn out gwb in the last election (partly the florida hurricanes giving the fed plenty of reason to pay attention to swingiest state FL, and partly a really weak Dem candidate [Dean still kicks Kerry’s patrician @$$])… can we impeach gwb? say we farked up (badly), pull out and get the rest of the world in?

    ps – we still have 3000 or so in bosnia, but the EU also stepped up and brought their folks in… remember what that was like (GW1) when allies worked together?

  10. enkidu Says:

    whoops – Korea was not our enemy, ahem

    silly copy n paste error
    sorry folks

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