Friday, March 28, 2008

Greenwald on Kagan's Little Oopsie--Now with Editing

"The civil war in Iraq is over?" Not so much.

Less than 24 hours after Kagan decreed the Civil War in Iraq over -- and lectured Americans that we must accept this if we are to understand reality in Iraq -- McClatchy News Service reported:
With Iraq's top leaders directing the battle, Iraq's army and national police pressed a major operation Tuesday to wrest control of the southern port city of Basra from the Shiite Mahdi Army militia. Fighting between government forces and the militia quickly spread through Iraq's south and into Baghdad.
Today, long-time, highly prescient Iraq correspondent Patrick Cockburn reported in The Independent: "A new civil war is threatening to explode in Iraq as American-backed Iraqi government forces fight Shia militiamen for control of Basra and parts of Baghdad."

The Times of London today reported: "Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen." The New York Times today detailed the deadly and increasingly violent fighting in multiple venues in Iraq, warning: "if the assault in Basra leads the Mahdi Army to break completely with its current cease-fire, which has helped to tamp down attacks in Iraq during the past year, there is a risk of escalating violence and of replaying 2004."

Also, later on:

From a truly depressing Times Online article:

"The battle is not easy without coalition support," lamented one Basra resident, who had worked as a translator for the British forces. "The police in Basra are useless and helping the Mahdi Army. The militia are hiding among the civilians. This country will never be safe, I want to leave for ever. I don't know how to get out of this hell."
As always, Americans hear instead about how happy things are in Iraq from the likes of Kagan, O'Hanlon and the other Lombardis of this war, rather than from actual Iraqis.

It's striking how few of them followed the advice of actual Iraq expert Thomas Ricks of The Washington Post:

Princeton, N.J.: Obviously not everyone in the media should resign, but it is annoying to having The Post (and others) regularly publish articles by those who were wrong, wrong, wrong, but those who were right about Iraq (e.g. Feingold) still get short shrift.

Thomas E. Ricks: Yes, I agree with you. There are a few people out there who should have the decency to follow the advice of the king of Spain.

Along those lines, I encourage everyone to read this truly superb post.
Not much to add. As soon as the surge began its drawdown, an escalation on the other side was almost inevitable. They were biding their time, as anyone else would in the same situation. The only way to prevent such a drawdown was permanent escalation. I'm sure Kagan 'n Co. want that, and I'm sure they'll advocate that in the wake of the current violence, but the American land forces simply can't handle it.

As for right vs. wrong and why they get in the media? It should be obvious by now. Being wrong isn't important. Being right isn't important. Having the popular opinion and having the ear of reporters (and, more importantly, producers), now that's important. It doesn't matter if you're wrong or right, as long as enough of the other "opinion-makers" agree with you. And, naturally, with the guy signing the checks.

(Yes, I'm going to be addressing the Hillary thing. I'm mostly shocked at how little coverage it's received, and how weak some of that coverage has been. Kevin Drum, for instance, should damned well know better. But it's been a while since I've familiarized myself with the 2003 writings on the Family/Fellowship, so it'll be tomorrow, I suppose.)

(Fixed that title. Don't know how that got through.)

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