Sunday, March 05, 2006


A recent CBS News poll showed that 62% of Americans think the war in Iraq is going badly, while 36% think it is going well. When asked if the war was worth the cost, 63% of Americans said no, and 29% said yes.

Gen. Peter Pace, the Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, blames the American media. He says they are disproportionately reporting all of the bad news in Iraq, while ignoring all of the good things that are going on.

According to Pace, if the American people had the opportunity to see all that is going on in Iraq, they would understand that "very, very good progress being made." But he admitted that it isn't possible to sustain the war without the support of the American people. "What they're seeing is the same bomb going off every 15 minutes on television."

The great irony is that with 34,131 insurgent attacks reported last year, there is quite literally a different attack happening every 15 minutes. So, it's not the same bomb going off repeatedly that has soured the American public about the war.

As for the risk of civil war in Iraq, on Monday the U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said "the crisis is over" and that "Iraqis decided to come together."

Yet, the very next day, the Washington Post reported that more than 1,300 Iraqis had been killed in sectarian attacks since a Shiite mosque was bombed the previous week. Though there was some disagreement over the actual number -- the Iraqi Cabinet said at least 379 people had been killed in reprisal attacks, and the AP reported that the Baghdad central morgue had received 249 bodies tied to the violence -- the Statistics Department of the Iraqi police put the nationwide toll at 1,020 in just the six days following the attack.

Despite this, Pace says, "I believe that, in the last week to 10 days, the Iraqi people have been showing that they do not want civil war." He went on to say that the reports of attacks on mosques by opposing religious groups have been greatly exaggerated. Sunni leaders charged that more than 100 Sunni mosques were burned, fired upon or bombed in the retaliatory violence after the attack on the Samarra mosque.

Yet, when asked at a press conference this week if Iraq was close to civil war, or could slip into such a war, Gen. George Casey, Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, said, "Anything can happen."

And according to another poll, 73% of Americans believe that Iraq is indeed headed toward civil war.

"The bottom line is, the Iraqi people are still so much better off today than they were under Saddam Hussein, " says Pace. "I mean, no matter what sector of society you look at right now, they are better off today than they were under Saddam Hussein."

That is emblematic of the larger disconnect that the American people are seeing out of the Bush Administration, and the Pentagon. Either the media has banded together in an act of collusion designed to fool the American people, or the Administration and the Pentagon are doing so.

At this point, even conservative opinion makers, such as George Will, William F. Buckley and Bill O'Reilly, have recently admitted to the failure of the war. The war's most ardent supporters are now jumping off the bandwagon.

Pace says that in the last year over 100,000 additional Iraqi troops have been added and that there are now 232,000 police and military members serving the Iraqi government. Additionally, Pace says they are on schedule to be at 335,000 by the end of this year.

But the question is, to what end? What difference have they made so far?

The Iraqi Army seems entirely inept and incompetent. Shiite militiamen from the Interior Ministry -- essentially death squads -- are said to be leading a murderous campaign against the Sunni population. If this burgeoning civil war becomes full scale, the entire U.S. effort will have been in vain.

How can anyone justify the U.S. military taking sides and engaging in another county's civil war? With the specter of Vietnam now more than thirty years behind us the lessons should have been learned, which makes that a difficult argument to engage in.

From the beginning, war planners have viewed this campaign through rose-colored lenses. They still aren't being honest with the American people. Yet it's hard -- as much as it is unsettling -- to imagine they're being dishonest with themselves. They must know the truth. But to admit failure would be politically disastrous, so instead we get the status quo; "stay the course," and "very, very good progress being made."

The events in Iraq are spiraling out of control and gaining momentum. And that momentum will bring change one way or another -- whether it's the type the Bush administration and the Pentagon want, or not.

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