U.S. tries to temper expectations on Iraq progress
A September progress report on the U.S. troop increase in Iraq that President George W. Bush called an important moment for his war strategy is unlikely to be a "pivotal" assessment, officials now say.Ahh, the tyranny of outrageous expectations! If we just lower our expectations every time they aren't met, we will never again be disappointed!
Amid unrelenting bloodshed in Iraq and scant signs of progress by the Iraqi government in meeting political benchmarks, the White House sought to temper expectations of rapid strides resulting from a security crackdown begun at the start of this year.
"I have warned from the very beginning about expecting some sort of magical thing to happen in September," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters on Wednesday.I don't know anyone who thinks you can change the situation in Iraq just by snapping a finger, do you? But that wasn't the question. It's not even part of the question. Tony Snow is just running interference here. It's one of the things he does best. How charming.
"What I would suggest is, rather than it's, sort of, a pivotal moment, it is the first opportunity to be able to take a look at what happens when you've got (the troop increase) up and running fully for a period of months," he added. "It is naive to think, suddenly -- boom -- you snap a finger and you've got an instant change in the situation."
Bush, in an interview with Reuters last month, said September would be an "important moment" to assess the extent of progress under the troop buildup he ordered in January.But now, as it turns out, maybe that's not the case. Bush misled us again. Tell me another one. Doo dah, doo dah.
"I see it as an important moment, because (Gen.) David Petraeus (the top U.S. commander in Iraq) says that's when he'll have a pretty good assessment as to what the effects of the surge has been," he said.
September is also an important time period on the U.S. political calendar, as the already intense campaign for presidency moves closer to the November 2008 election.I suppose in Washington parlance that last bit may very well be true. Everything hinges on what you mean by "tried".
Democrats, who hold a majority in the U.S. Congress, tried to force Bush to accept a troop withdrawal as a condition of providing funds for the Iraq war.
Although they have given Bush war funding through September without such conditions, they have vowed to continue to seek a deadline for the U.S. presence in Iraq.Sure they will. Absolutely. Can I have an acre of swampland with that, and a suspension bridge?
Some Republicans have told Bush they expect progress in Iraq by autumn and have hinted that if the situation does not improve, they might reconsider their support for his strategy.But he doesn't care about their support! He's not running for re-election, is he?
While Snow's comments appeared to show a change in the White House tone compared to a few weeks ago, they echoed those of some U.S. military officials recently.We may need to keep our troop buildup going for another ten or twenty or fifty years before we get a "true assessment" of how well the occupation is working. But Bush is willing to wait, and Odierno doesn't seem to mind very much.
Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, has said September might be a little too soon for a "true assessment" of how well the troop buildup is working.
Who cares whether people are getting killed? It actually costs a lot less to bring the dead home and bury them than to neglect the wounded in VA hospitals for the rest of their lives. So it might not matter much that
May saw a heavy death toll among U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. It was the third-worst month for U.S. military deaths, which totaled 122. Nearly 2,000 civilians were killed in Iraq last month, according to Iraqi estimates.Reuters has more on the attack:
On Wednesday, fresh violence was feared after suspected al Qaeda militants blew up two minarets at the revered Golden Mosque, one of four major Shi'ite shrines in Iraq.
Minarets blown up at Iraq Shi'ite shrine
Suspected al Qaeda militants on Wednesday blew up the minarets of a revered Shi'ite mosque in the Iraqi city of Samarra, target of a 2006 bomb attack that unleashed a tidal wave of sectarian violence.One of the photos above shows the mosque before it was attacked. The other shows how it looks today, without the golden dome (destroyed in the 2006 bombing) and the minarets.
Fearing renewed bloodshed, Iraq's government imposed a three-day curfew in Baghdad as Shi'ite and Sunni political and religious leaders called on their followers to remain calm.
But police said gunmen blew up the Sunni Grand Mosque in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad, destroying it. A second was damaged in another blast and attackers set fire to a mosque in Baghdad's Bayaa district. No injuries were reported.
A grim mood descended on the capital as people hurried home before the start of the curfew. The streets were largely empty apart from patrolling Iraqi police and soldiers.
Speaking of the Iraqi police,
13 Iraqi Police Arrested After Golden Dome Destroyed in Shrine Blast
Thirteen Iraqi policemen were arrested Wednesday after two minarets of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra were blown up in a repeat of the 2006 attack that shattered its famous golden dome and unleashed a wave of sectarian violence that still bloodies Iraq.Oops! Maybe the police were sitting down when they should have been standing up. Or else maybe they were infiltrated by al-Q'aeda operatives. Unless al-Q'aeda is a figment of our imagination.
The commander of an emergency response team and 12 other Iraq policemen were arrested after the explosions ...
Caren Bohan continues:
A bombing of the same shrine in the Iraqi city of Samarra last year unleashed a wave of sectarian killing.On the other hand, maybe it will galvanize Iraqi leaders to work together against the American occupation.
U.S. officials said they hoped a similar wave of retaliatory attacks could be avoided this time.
Petraeus told ABC in an interview that the Samarra attack was a "serious blow" to the military effort, but added that he hoped with it would galvanize Iraqi leaders to work together against extremism.
Oh wait! Aren't they galvanized already?
Snow said, "I think people are acutely aware of what the dangers may be and therefore are moving swiftly to address it as rapidly as possible."The Iraqis are indeed acutely aware of what the dangers may be and they've been trying to address it as rapidly as possible ... but the Americans just won't pack up and go home!
Seeking to keep up the pressure on the administration, Democratic leaders sent Bush a letter urging him to shift gears immediately, saying the troop increase had "failed to produce the intended results."First of all they're wrong. The Democratic leaders don't even know what the intended results were supposed to be.
And secondly, they certainly know how to throw their weight around, don't they?
Wow. They sent him a letter.
Way to go, Democrats!! We're so glad we elected you!!