Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Petraeus: Six More Months

Thomas Friedman, the Bush administration and neoconservatives kept telling the American public to wait another six month. This is when Iraq will turn itself around. General David Petraeus is the latest to use this talking point.

We think we won't know that we've reached a turning point until we're six months past it. We have repeatedly said that there is no lights at the end of the tunnel that we're seeing. We're certainly not dancing in the end zone or anything like that.

The war supporters set up deadline after deadline and repeatly break it. Apparently, it is working in the short-term. A Sacred Heart University poll found 49.1 percent believe the war is going better than reported by the media. A CNN poll reports 46 percent of those polled believe the surge can be won. Petraeus have been the gift that keeps on giving to the White House.

The current troop levels will decrease. The Iraqi goverment is no closer to political reconciliation agong the sectarian groups. The government often blows off the foreign dipolomats.

Inside, almost like a hostage, Jaafari was being harangued by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw. The two had decided only one day earlier to make the trip to Baghdad, exasperated that the prime minister was continuing to resist a steady flow of hints from the US ambassador that it was time to go. All kinds of arguments were trotted out. Iraq needed a leader who could unify the country. The government must clamp down on Shia militias. The cabinet had to be led by a man who could command support across the spectrum, including from Kurds and Sunni Arabs.

Jaafari did not listen, or at least he did not obey. Not even a phone call from Bush in the White House had done the trick. Now he was being given his marching orders by Rice and Straw in person.

The U.S. negotiated a cease fire with Moqtada al-Sadr. The religious leader is losing control over his people.

Many of Sadr's militia has claimed Sadr is not in control of most of the criminals who abducted and murdered Sunni civilians in the sectarian violence provoked by the bombing of the golden-domed shrine in Samarra. With the Sadr militia "ceasefire" mostly holding, it's hard to say exactly how much influence the militia still retains within Iraqi police and army units.

The Iraqi police and military is filled with insurgents, corruption is rampamt and Westerners still can't travel alone in Baghdad. Six months aren't going to fix these problems.

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