Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Beat Goes On

By all accounts, it appears that President Bush is about to send more U.S. troops to Iraq as part of a new surge and sacrifice strategy. Blair's refusal to meaningfully discuss any aspect of the Iraq war makes it impossible to know for sure what our great leader thinks of this extraordinarily stupid idea but given that it is in direct conflict with Blair's stated policy of transferring more control to Iraqi security forces, it does look like Blair's influence on Bush is operating at the level we've all become accustomed too. Any guesses what Blair will say when Bush announces that new strategy? Will he say anything at all?

A woefully under-reported Military Times poll meanwhile, reveals that U.S. active service personnel, for all the propaganda they're subjected too, are losing faith in the war (poll methodology here). 41% now believe the U.S. is not very or not at all likely to succeed in Iraq and 42% disapprove of Bush's handling of the war. There is some support among the troops for a increase in troops numbers but that's hardly surprising; self-preservation and the need to provide force protection in an extremely hostile environment are the key motivators here.

But U.S. troops are not overly confident that Blair's slightly less extraordinarily stupid strategy will work. Confidence In Iraq's security forces is pitifully low.
How soon do you think the Iraqi military will be ready to replace large numbers of American troops?
  • Less than a year - 2%
  • 1-2 years - 20%
  • 3-5 years - 36%
  • 5-10 years - 22%
  • More than 10 years - 12%
  • No opinion/no answer - 7%
This, after nearly four years of training. Down in the south, the British government is talking about a substantial transfer in the next few months. In the rest of the country, 58% of active duty U.S. troops think it'll be between three and ten years before the Iraqis are substantially able to control their own country without large scale coalition military assistance.

This reinforces the enormous difficulties of stabilising Iraq as a country. The Blairite line is still to minimise the realities on the ground. Des Browne recently said "I make no apology for reminding people that 14 of the 18 provinces are relatively peaceful" and other ministers do the same when unable to avoid discussing Iraq. Baghdad, by far the most populous of Iraq's provinces, is of course one of those which is not "relatively peaceful" but that sort of number crunching really misses the point. When, for example, did you ever hear any government minister point out that suicide bomb attacks have only ever occurred in one of England's nine regions? To play down the seriousness of the situation in that way while Iraq's capital slowly but surely descends into violent anarchy is just the sort of disingenuous sophistry this government revels in.

But what, I hear you ask, is the point of continuing to highlight this? Previously, I wrote this sort of thing in part to point out that the situation was not improving as was claimed by our government and that it was in fact only going to get worse. In the last year, the credibility of the fiction that success in Iraq is just round the corner has been all but destroyed. (I should add again that it gives me no pleasure to have been right.)

Only the most deranged still maintain that the Iraq's "problems" are largely manufactured by the media. You'd like to think that Malkin will have her eyes opened by her forthcoming visit but it seems far more likely that she'll take with her a set of blinkers which will only allow her to see to those things which confirm her already existing view. She may be there for some time.

There's no point arguing the case with someone like that. As the Flying Rodent pointed out the other day, the self-correcting mechanisms of the bl#!#$!@#ere only works "if the blogger in question has a shred of intellectual honesty".

But there is still a purpose. There's a war on and this country is on the losing side. People are dying every day. Our Prime Minister would rather we didn't think too much about that. He would rather we didn't demand that he be held to account for the entirely predictable catastrophe he has embroiled this country in.

Well, I for one do not think he should be allowed to get away with it. For that reason, posts on the bloody mess that Iraq has become will continue to be a feature of this blog in 2007.

1 comment:

Niels said...

Quick google on those "relatively peaceful" provinces kicks out this page.

Quote: "The general said of the 18 provinces in Iraq, 14 of them experience few, if any, incidents on a daily basis."

So "relatively peaceful" means "not many people are killed each day". Result!