View Full Version : Politics Collide With Iraq Realities

04-08-2007, 08:56 AM
8 April Washington Post - Politics Collide With Iraq Realities (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/07/AR2007040701368.html?hpid=topnews) by Thomas Ricks.

There are two Iraq wars being waged, according to military officers on the ground and defense experts: the one fought in the streets of Baghdad, and the war as it is perceived in Washington.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who took over as the top U.S. commander in Iraq in February, cited the disparity last week. "The Washington clock is moving more rapidly than the Baghdad clock," he said in a television interview. "So we're obviously trying to speed up the Baghdad clock a bit and to produce some progress on the ground that can, perhaps . . . put a little more time on the Washington clock."...

"The time scale to succeed is years," said John J. Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary, while "the time scale for tolerance here is 12 months for Democrats and 18 months for Republicans."

One result of this disparity is the emergence of radically different views of the impact of the new strategy, which has been referred to as a "surge" because it sends more troops into Iraq but which is more noteworthy for moving U.S. troops off large, isolated bases and into smaller outposts across the capital...

04-08-2007, 09:02 AM
8 April Washington Post commentary - The War You're Not Reading About (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/06/AR2007040601781.html) by Sen. John McCain.

I just returned from my fifth visit to Iraq since 2003 -- and my first since Gen. David Petraeus's new strategy has started taking effect. For the first time, our delegation was able to drive, not use helicopters, from the airport to downtown Baghdad. For the first time, we met with Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province who are working with American and Iraqi forces to combat al-Qaeda. For the first time, we visited Iraqi and American forces deployed in a joint security station in Baghdad -- an integral part of the new strategy. We held a news conference to discuss what we saw: positive signs, underreported in the United States, that are reason for cautious optimism.

I observed that our delegation "stopped at a local market, where we spent well over an hour, shopping and talking with the local people, getting their views and ideas about different issues of the day." Markets in Baghdad have faced devastating terrorist attacks. A car bombing at Shorja in February, for example, killed 137 people. Today the market still faces occasional sniper attacks, but it is safer than it used to be. One innovation of the new strategy is closing markets to vehicles, thereby precluding car bombs that kill so many and garner so much media attention. Petraeus understandably wanted us to see this development...

The new political-military strategy is beginning to show results. But most Americans are not aware because much of the media are not reporting it or devote far more attention to car bombs and mortar attacks that reveal little about the strategic direction of the war. I am not saying that bad news should not be reported or that horrific terrorist attacks are not newsworthy. But news coverage should also include evidence of progress. Whether Americans choose to support or oppose our efforts in Iraq, I hope they could make their decision based on as complete a picture of the situation in Iraq as is possible to report...

04-10-2007, 09:01 PM
It seems to me that the war as its perceived in Washington is more important than the real progress (or lack thereof) in Iraq. If it will take a long time (and it probably will), then the perception of progress in Washington is required to allow the coalition the time and resources to accomplish the mission.
I don't think that we can knee-jerk and blame the press for failing to show success. I think that any counterinsurgency strategy that involves us fighting in someone else's country (and they all are) should have an effective strategic communications plan. As an onlooker, I'm still wondering: what are the measures of success? We can't cop out and just say its too complicated for the public to understand.

04-12-2007, 08:04 AM
12 April Washington Post commentary - The Real Surge Story (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/11/AR2007041102119.html) by Sen Joe Biden.

Sen. John McCain ["The War You're Not Reading About (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/06/AR2007040601781.html)," op-ed, April 8] is right to warn about the consequences of failure in Iraq. But he is fundamentally wrong when he argues that those potential consequences require us to stick with a failing strategy.

It is precisely because the stakes are so great that we must change course in Iraq, now.

McCain wrote that the president's strategy is beginning to show results but that most Americans don't know it because the media cover the bad news, not the good news. Of course, reporting any news in Iraq is an extraordinary act of bravery, given the dangers journalists must navigate every day. But the fact is, virtually every "welcome development" McCain cited has been reported, including the purported anti-al-Qaeda alliance with Sunni sheikhs in Anbar, the establishment of joint U.S.-Iraqi security stations in Baghdad and the decision by Moqtada al-Sadr to go to ground -- for now.

The problem is that for every welcome development, there is an equally or even more unwelcome development that gives lie to the claim that we are making progress...