Sunday, April 08, 2007

john mccain still peddling his iraqi myth

Today presidential wannabe John McCain continues his Crooked Talk Express about Iraq in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post. It is full of unintentionally hilarious things as McCain bends and twists to make it look like the escalation I mean surge is working.

McCain (or one of his staff, more likely) writes: 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.

Hey, what a good idea -- keep cars out of markets. But really, this is less progress than an acknowledgment that US and Iraqi security forces can't stop people from setting off car bombs in the first place. Stopping the practice of car bombs -- now THAT would be a real bit of progress. McCain also neglects to note that over 20 people died in his market shortly after his visit there -- a visit made possible by half-a-dozen helicopters and over 100 US military personnel, and even so, McCain had to wear a flack jacket to go there. Oh yeah, that's progress. He also fails to note that US personnel in the Green Zone even are now advised to wear helmets and flack jackets when walking from one building in that zone to another. Oh yeah, that's progress.

McCain does the usual thing, blaming the press for focusing on car bombs and mayhem and not the good things that happen in the US. Maybe he would have liked more coverage in the US on September 12, 2001 of the good things that happened the day before -- births, the beautiful weather, pet adoptions, the new CDs that were released on that Tuesday. One of the positives he cites is: ยท Iraqi army and police forces are increasingly fighting on their own and with American forces, and their size and capability are growing. Iraqi army and police casualties have increased because they are fighting more.

Now, pardon me if I don't become immediately excited by this. De facto President George Bush (remember him? He used to be the main cheerleader for Iraq before McCain took over that role) has been saying for over three years that as soon as Iraqi forces stand up, we can stand down. Many of the Iraqi casualties -- especially police -- aren't happening in fighting, but are execution-style murders. Naturally, that has a bit of a negative effect on recruitment, which four years later is nowhere near the level where they can really provide their own security. Not to mention all the stories about units refusing to deploy anywhere in Iraq but their own towns, about refusing to arrest fellow Shiites or Sunnis, about desertions at the first opportunity.

McCain's increasingly desperate optimism about Iraq frankly puzzles me. You'd think he was president already and was running for re-election on his own Iraq invasion.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sir, read with interest your editiorial re: McCain. While you bring many salient points, you are in danger of falling prey to misinformation re situation in Baghdad. Since this is the gist of your argument against the senator in question, I recommend a little fact verification before you pronounce a final analysis. I have some bona fides in the area of Baghdad, since I live there [and have a fairly high some rank and more than one advanced college degree] and am quite familiar with the facts in question.

One little titbit with which to titbit you, no, we are not required to wear body armor when walking between buildings. So, if an actual eyewitness can directly verify this fact, mayhap you should do some research and check your others?

Overall, thank you for an interesting and fairly cogent piece of writng. It is certainly more readable than most and, as advertised, "Vaguely Logical"

call me Cincinnatus

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

harrumph, sorry, that should have read "titbit with which to tittilate you".

I hate screwing up my alliteration


9:44 AM  
Blogger Don Q Blogger said...

Assuming Cincinnatus's facts are right, I stand corrected on the body armor in the Green Zone bit. But I will stick to my guns about the rest of it, since I believe that the reports out of Iraq (where I am pleased to say I am not) of daily bombings and executions of police and ongoing problems with getting the Iraqi security forces to "stand up" do reflect the certain grim reality of the situation there. Not to mention the massive security operation that McCain's visit to the market entailed.

5:36 AM  

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