Predicting the future is never an exact science, but one technique is to establish an arc of past events that points toward what is likely to happen next. If one were to apply that approach to Iraq now, alarmed U.S. policymakers might be speeding to pull American troops out as fast as possible.
Another way to judge whether a policy is heading in the right direction is to go back to earlier milestones and ask whether a change of course then would have been a smart idea. If the answer is yes, it's fair to assume that the wrong direction before won't suddenly transform itself into the right one.
Except for die-hard neoconservatives and George W. Bush's staunchest followers, most Americans -- if allowed to turn back the clock to March 2003 -- would happily agree to give the United Nations weapons inspectors more time to complete their search for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
Though it’s a bitter pill for the Bush team to swallow, even with a swig of fine Bordeaux, the French were right. If their advice had been taken, more than 2,500 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis might be alive today -- and the United States might have averted a strategic disaster.
Even looking back at post-invasion high points, like Saddam Hussein's capture, many Americans might wish the Bush administration had opted for a "declare victory and leave" approach. But Bush saw each positive development as encouragement to press on toward a more total victory.
In retrospect, Bush’s policy might be summed up by the slogan, "Who knows? We might get lucky."
Grim and Grimmer
But, as the Iraq news grows grim and grimmer, the U.S. occupation of Iraq shows no sign of getting lucky.
Sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites continues to inflict widespread bloodshed, while some U.S. troops have been fingered as trigger-happy participants in the slaughter of Iraqis.
It also doesn’t help that the Bush administration -- by lowering standards to meet U.S. military recruitment goals -- has been sending unfit soldiers and even sociopaths into the baking-hot tinderbox that is today’s Iraq.
The above, noted by Zach, is from Robert Parry's "The Enduring Logic of Withdrawal" (Consortium News). (Hopefully no one reading the excerpt thought, "At last, the New York Times sees the light of day!" only to be disappointed when they realized it wasn't from the paper. Although a similar sort of moment has happened to a few who heard a certain correspondent for the paper speak at a college and be full of brave talk and bluster -- using terms like "delusional" to describe the administration's 'plan' -- only to go back to churning out the usual sop and happy talk.)
Now let's go to the Times, which isn't too concerned with Iraq today. Kirk Semple has "Carnage Eases in Baghdad, but Continues to Take Toll" and tries to walk the fine line between what the paper allows and reality. He trips. He stumbles. He falls. (Didn't the Mamas and the Papas warn it would be that way?) We'll note one specific example as he speaks of the calm by comparison (at least 31 killed on Thursday, on the calm day):
In the deadliest insurgent attack Thursday, a bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, killing three street sweepers and wounding four, an Interior Ministry official said. An Iraqi policeman was killed and four were wounded in the predominantly Sunni Arab district of Ghazaliya in western Baghdad in a clash between gunmen and police officers, the official said.
That was the deadliest attack? (Even the figures go against other reports, but let's let that slide.)
One item from Reuters yesterday:
ABI SAIDA - A suicide bomber blew himself up in the city council of the town of Abi Saida, 80 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, killing six people and wounding three, including the head of the city council, police said.
Six killed. "Including the head of the city council."
One would think that was a bit more deadly than the incident he goes with.
Guess what, it's Friday. It's getting worse. From Reuters today:
BAGHDAD, July 14 (Reuters) - A bomb planted in the street killed at least seven people and wounded five as they left a Sunni mosque in northern Baghdad after Friday prayers, police said.
(AP's still happy talking by the way.)
Sometimes it's hard to be a happy talker, giving all your spin, for just one illegal war.
Remember, this happened where a 'crackdown' has been going on for, what, a month now? With a Friday curfew. (By the way, Zach also notes Consortium on Plamegate.)
With other examples of violence not covered in the Times, Martha notes Joshua Partlow's "Iraq Given Control of Province" (Washington Post):
Violence flared again in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities Thursday, leaving at least 32 people dead as sectarian violence continued this week. In one incident, a bomb tethered to a bicycle exploded outside the city council office in Abi Saida, a town about 60 miles north of Baghdad, killing four people and wounding three, said Lt. Adnan Lefta of the Muqdadiyah police major crimes unit.
In the predominantly Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City in Baghdad, a car bomb blew up near a gas station, killing seven people and injuring 16, according to Interior Ministry officials.
The coach of the national wrestling team, Mohammed Karim Abid Sahib, was killed when gunmen attempted to abduct him and one of his wrestlers near a sports center in the northern part of Baghdad, the Associated Press reported. The wrestler escaped.
I'm just not getting that peaceful, easy feeling.
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