04 March 2008

A Realistic Prognosis of Iraq

Finding good non-partisan analysis on Iraq from a Western perspective can be difficult. Popular sites like the Huffington Post tend to embellish casualty-inducing events in an effort to make the war look like it is going poorly to take stabs at the Bush administration. I'm certain they are gearing up for that "4,000 US Soldiers Killed!" story to further their cause. On the other hand, Neoconservative publications will defend any progress in the war in Iraq, while not acknowledging any setbacks or a disturbingly over-used military force. Recently, The Weekly Standard proclaimed Gen Petraeus as the "Patton of Counterinsurgency". While I agree that General Petraeus runs a good counter-insurgency and I'm glad to work for him, let's not go off the deep end here. The Kagans illustrate their affection:

Great commanders often come in pairs: Eisenhower and Patton, Grant and Sherman, Napoleon and Davout, Marlborough and Eugene, Caesar and Labienus. Generals David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno can now be added to the list.

C'mon, Caesar?!? Does that mean that all coalition forces are Roman Legionaries traipsing through Mesopotamia? If it does, I would like to know where the wine is at and which way to the Bacchus-styke orgy. But seriously, viewing the Iraq war through a bi-partisan prism of media can be self-defeating as every fact will be conveyed to suit a political agenda and speculation without justification will run rampant.

So that's why I try to turn to sources outside the US, which has been so bitterly divided by this war. Here's a good Op-Ed from the London Times entitled "Iraq: For Once There's Hope" (h/t ThisFuckingWar):

There is less gunfire, and fewer explosions. No longer do I instinctively look for mutilated torsos floating down the Tigris. I have ventured out to shop and eat - albeit in one of Baghdad's safest districts. The night-time curfew has been relaxed. Schools, markets and the national theatre have reopened. Families visit refurbished parks. Men sit outside caf├ęs drinking sweet, black tea. Children play soccer on side roads.

Which the author couterpoints himself with:

But all this must be set in context. What passes for normality in Iraq would be utterly abnormal anywhere else. The number of Iraqis killed in January was the lowest in 23 months, but still numbered 541. Hundreds of thousands of Baghdadis now live in walled-in, ethnically cleansed, heavily guarded enclaves that they are terrified to leave. Sunnis do not venture into Shia areas, and vice-versa. Sectarian hatreds have been contained, but not resolved.

I certainly agree that violence has been tempered, but there is much chaos ailing Iraq. One of the biggest problems is lack of basic services (electricity, sewage, etc.) and a government that has been not incredibly ambitious in providing them as we had hoped. Thanks to Martin Fletcher for giving an honest look from an outsider's eye without all the political hoopla.

A US soldier in the eyes of some


David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/05/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.