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Mini-benchmarks.

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"There are ... if you will, mini-benchmarks where things are happening," said U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, pictured with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, right. Crocker cited Anbar province, where violence has decreased substantially.



You don't see this in the US MSM but, the article "Coming months vital for US Iraq strategy" at
click here
states "Some military analysts point out, however, that the rebellion by Sunni Arab tribes against Al Qaeda began before the troop build-up, so caution against using the pacification of the province as proof that the Bush's new strategy is working.



Big bro 43 as well as the Iraq Study Group were against the "soft partitioning" of Iraq which Senator Biden, and other Democrats have been proposing for years.
Whatever W agrees to after putting Petraeus' report through his "Ministry of Truth" won't be what he started out with and he's probably sending out fake messages about reducing troops in Iraq!



The article "Bush travels to Iraq and touts success in Anbar" at
http://www.slate.com/id/2173261/nav/fix/
asks why Anbar and states "More likely though, Anbar was chosen because it's seen as the clearest place where some success has been evident. But Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert, tells the NYT that Anbar isn't really exemplary of a successful American strategy since any progress there has more to do with the local frustration with al-Qaida in Iraq, and "We are spinning events that don't really reflect the reality on the ground." Although Bush tried to bring both sides together yesterday, there is clearly still distrust between the Shiite central government and the Sunnis as many doubt the Anbar model can be exported to other areas.
But that is exactly what the new U.S. strategy in Iraq has become, reports the WSJ in a Page One piece. The paper says that "after almost four years of trying to build Iraq's central government in Baghdad" the United States has concluded that "what appears to work best in the divided country is just the opposite." In other words, the United States is increasingly trying to prop up local leaders and the WSJ suggests this might amount to dividing the country into different areas, a strategy that sounds a lot like the "soft partition" that several Democrats have been advocating for some time. The thinking is that the United
States should worry a bit less about the central government and hope that the country will remain united in the long run because local leaders will still depend on Baghdad for money.
And, wait a minute, isn't that a strategy shift from the stated goals of the "surge" that was supposed to give some breathing room for politicians in Baghdad so they could make progress and create a model democracy in the Middle East? The "big change in the debate has come about because the surge failed, and it failed in an unexpected way," points out the NYT's David Brooks who says there is now a consensus that "peace will come to the center last, not to the center first."
Both the WP and LAT check in on how the troop buildup is going and ask whether the surge is working. Short answer: no. The LAT goes through the depressing data: there's been little political progress, the number of Iraqis forced to leave their home has increased, there's been no significant drop in civilian deaths, and a new troubling trend has emerged of intra-Shiite killings. The best the LAT and WP can say is that things are sort of stable because neighborhoods have become more segregated, and there is a heightened presence of U.S. troops. Meanwhile, the WP notes U.S. troops can't trust many in the Iraqi Army, which has been infiltrated by Shiite militias. And, to make matters worse, many of the
Sunnis joining forces with the United States used to be insurgents and have a strong distrust of the Shiite government. No one really knows if they could ever really work together if U.S. troops leave."



The article "Biden: Bush's Iraq withdrawal comments 'a diversion'" at
http://rawstory.com//news/2007/Biden_Bushs_Iraq_withdrawal_comments_a_0904.html
states "One day after President Bush traveled to Iraq, a Democratic presidential candidate took some shots at the president's "surprise" visit.
On CBS's Early Show Tuesday, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, explained Bush's ability to walk around freely in shirtsleeves by saying, "The place he was, the Al Asad Air Force Base, is out in the middle of nowhere. ... It's 15,000 acres surrounded by a fence. It's not like walking through Ramadi."
Biden was asked about Bush's suggestion that he might withdraw some troops from Iraq. "I thought it a bit of a diversion," said Biden. "If he's talking about bringing down our troops to the pre-surge level, to 130,000, that's not withdrawal."
Biden pointed out that there has been a lot of discussion of progress in Anbar Province, where tribal chiefs have begun fighting al Qaeda, but there are no signs of progress in the fighting between Sunnis and Shias.
"Prior to the surge, people were fleeing their neighborhoods at 50,000 people a month," he stated. "Since the surge, they've been fleeing their neighborhoods at 100,000 per month."
"As a Kurdish vice president said," Biden continued, "'Centralized rule in Iraq is finished.' The sooner the president realizes that and decides that we're going to have more of a federal system ... with a weak central government -- that's the only chance we have here. ... This is a civil war, and we shouldn't be in the midst of it."



This big day for W, almost as staged as "Mission Accomplished" coincides with our truest ally, the English abandoning the 2nd biggest city in Iraq. The article "As British Leave, Basra Deteriorates" at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/06/AR2007080601401.html
puts it clearly as "Home to two-thirds of Iraq's oil resources, Basra is the country's sole dependable outlet for exporting oil, with a capacity of 1.8 million barrels a day. Much of Basra's violence is "over who gets what cut from Iraq's economic resources," a U.S. Army strategist in Iraq said."



It is shameful that big bro 43 utilizes cheap photo-ops while our soldiers and innocent Iraqis are dying, but how he can do it on the very day that the US loses the economic capital of Iraq? The article continues "But "it's hard now to paint Basra as a success story," said a senior U.S. official in Baghdad with long experience in the south. Instead, it has become a different model, one that U.S. officials with experience in the region are concerned will be replicated throughout the Iraqi Shiite homeland from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf. A recent series of war games commissioned by the Pentagon also warned of civil war among Shiites after a reduction in U.S. forces.
For the past four years, the administration's narrative of the Iraq war has centered on al-Qaeda, Iran and the sectarian violence they have promoted. But in the homogenous south -- where there are virtually no U.S. troops or al-Qaeda fighters, few Sunnis, and by most accounts limited influence by Iran -- Shiite militias fight one another as well as British troops. A British strategy launched last fall to reclaim Basra neighborhoods from violent actors -- similar to the current U.S. strategy in Baghdad -- brought no lasting success.
"The British have basically been defeated in the south," a senior U.S. intelligence official said recently in Baghdad. They are abandoning their former headquarters at Basra Palace, where a recent official visitor from London described them as "surrounded like cowboys and Indians" by militia fighters."



What happened to Wolfowitz' pledge that the Iraq war would pay for itself with its "seas of oil"? The article continues "As it prepares to take control of Basra, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has dispatched new generals to head the army and police forces there.
But the warring militias are part of factions in the government itself, including radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- whose Mahdi Army is believed responsible for most of the recent attacks on the airport compound -- as well as the Fadhila, or Islamic Virtue Party, and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the country's largest Shiite party.
In March, Fadhila pulled out of Maliki's ruling alliance of Shiite parties in
Baghdad after it lost control of the petroleum ministry to the Supreme Council.
Last week, under pressure from the council, Maliki fired the Fadhila governor of
Basra. Fadhila has refused to relinquish power over the governate or over
Basra's lucrative oil refineries, calling the Maliki government "the new Baath"
-- a reference to Hussein's Sunni-led political party -- and appealed the dismissal to Iraq's constitutional court....
Basra's "security nightmare" has already had devastating effects on Iraq's economy, said Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan.
Home to two-thirds of Iraq's oil resources, Basra is the country's sole dependable outlet for exporting oil, with a capacity of 1.8 million barrels a day. Much of Basra's violence is "over who gets what cut from Iraq's economic resources," a U.S. Army strategist in Iraq said.
Militias and criminal gangs are financed in part by stolen oil smuggled outside the country, even as Iraq lacks enough energy to provide electricity to many of its people. Both the oil industry and the port facilities -- providing Iraq's only maritime access -- have made Basra "a significant prize for local political actors," the ICG said.
The current U.S. security operation to "clear, hold and build" in Baghdad and its surroundings is almost a replica of Operation Sinbad, which British and
Iraqi forces conducted in Basra from September 2006 to March of this year with a mission of "clear, hold and civil reconstruction." Although Operation Sinbad initially succeeded in lowering crime and political assassinations, attacks rose in the spring and British forces withdrew into their compounds."



The article "As Bush claims success in Iraq, the British leave Basra" at
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/19429.html
amplifies this theme with "Bush visited Sunni Muslim Anbar province, where the U.S. has touted progress as local tribes have turned against the Islamic extremists of al Qaida in Iraq.
In the south, the problem isn't Sunni Islamic extremists but at least three dueling Shiite militias. British forces sustained heavy attacks by Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army militia for more than a year, and his followers
Monday touted their withdrawal as a victory against the "occupation".
"If our presence on the streets is inflammatory, it's better (that) we're out," said a Western diplomat in Baghdad, who said she was confident that the Iraqi security forces, although they've been heavily infiltrated by Sadr's men and by members of the rival Badr Corps, could handle the second-largest city in Iraq.
The diplomat spoke on the condition of anonymity because she wasn't authorized to speak on the record."



Maybe we should disregard W's people and deal with remarks such as these "Over the past two weeks, the city quieted as British patrols disappeared from the streets and the city prepared for the handover today. The sounds of rockets, mortars and roadside bombs, once heavy night and day, had nearly stopped. The Mahdi Army, which had been bombarding the British in Basra with daily mortar attacks, and has the largest on the ground Shiite militia, declared the withdrawal a victory.
"It gives us great pleasure and pride, and this came about because of the hits of the honorable resistance represented by the Mahdi Army that resisted so the occupier would leave," a leading member of the Mahdi Army said. "We are so happy that our efforts and sacrifices were crowned by success."



Another reason for picking Anbar for this photo-op is that big bro 43 wanted to prove he could get Maliki to submit to his power. The article "Bush, in Iraq, Says Troop Reduction Is Possible" at
click here
states "Distrust remains deep between Sunnis in Anbar and the Maliki government - and it is clear that Mr. Maliki sees effort by the American military to organize armed groups of Sunnis to assist American troops as a policy that amounts to assisting his enemies. Nor is it clear that the same model can be made to work in areas of Iraq where Sunnis and Shiites live together.
Sunnis, for their part, complain that the Maliki government has long failed to deliver services and to share oil revenue with Anbar. Describing the meeting
Monday between the tribal sheiks and Iraqi officials from Baghdad, Mr. Gates said, "There was a sense of shared purpose among them and some good-natured jousting over resources."



Remember, this coalition of Sunnis tribal chiefs joining with US forces against Al Qaeda militants began before the troop build-up,
because W's boys will try to make the facts unclear as "While some administration officials have recently described the Sunni shift in Anbar as serendipitous, they portrayed the improvements as an outgrowth, at least in part, of the decision to send nearly 4,000 additional marines to the province as part of the White House strategy to increase troops. "This is not serendipity," national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley told reporters.



All he has done is lie and has done so from the very beginning as the article "Economist's View: I Don't Remember Where the Buck Stops" at
http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/09/i-dont-remember.html
states "Instead of taking responsibility for the decision to disband the Iraqi army, President Bush has said he doesn't remember much about it, and has given the appearance of trying to shift the responsibility elsewhere. But L. Paul Bremer says President Bush was aware of the decision and has released an "exchange of letters" to back up his claims.
But why should people have to provide evidence to force the president to take responsibility for key decisions about the war? He may not have been aware it was a key decision - that seems to be the case - but not understanding how important it was doesn't absolve him of responsibility for it. Instead, it highlights the poor understanding he and others in the administration had about what postwar conditions would be like, and what would be needed to stabilize the country."



The article "Troop buildup fails to reconcile Iraq" at
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-surge4sep04,0,2280359,full.story
after listing and analyzing collateral damage numbers concludes with "At best, analysts, military officers and ordinary Iraqis portray the country as in a holding pattern, dependent on U.S. troops to keep the lid on violence."



Why won't the Shiites stop their campaign of genocide against the Sunnis? "It's always easy to get the prospective loser in a civil war to agree to a cease-fire," said Stephen Biddle, a counterinsurgency expert at the Council on Foreign Relations who has advised military commanders in Iraq. Sunnis are a minority and far more open to switching loyalties if it ensures them a future stake in governing Iraq, he said.
"It's a lot tougher to get the prospective winner to agree to a cease-fire," Biddle said, referring to the majority Shiites. "Getting them to sign on is going to be harder because they see themselves in ascendancy."



The numbers aren't down, but it is surprising they aren't. With all of the ethnic cleansing and hordes of Iraqis fleeing their homes, just who is left to kill?

"Basically, Iraqis are fleeing because they flee for their lives," Dana Graber-Ladek of the International Organization for Migration said. "As long as the violence continues, displacement will continue."


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