Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Unhappy Anniversary

Five years into their failed Iraq misadventure, President Bush and Vice President Cheney pass around a batch of fresh Kool-Aid, along with a set of rose-colored glasses to help the medicine go down:
Bush to hail prospect of Iraq "strategic victory"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush will acknowledge on Wednesday the Iraq war has been fought at a high cost but will insist a U.S. troop buildup has opened the door to a "major strategic victory" against Islamic militants.

"The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable," Bush will say in an upbeat assessment of the U.S.-led campaign in a speech marking the fifth anniversary of the war, according to excerpts released on Tuesday.


Bush will be touting security gains from a troop increase or "surge" that he ordered early last year, as he appeals to Americans for patience in a war entering its sixth year since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

"The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around -- it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror," Bush will say.

But the “surge” has done none of the things it was intended to do. It was supposed to provide “breathing room” for political reconciliation, but where are these political gains? The only thing the “surge” did was correct Donald Rumsfeld’s fatal error of not providing enough troops for an occupation to begin with. All those fantasies about chocolates and rose petals, remember?

Juan Cole runs down the litany Iraq War lies in today’s Salon. Let’s start with the “surge”:

Hundreds of thousands of Baghdad residents were ethnically cleansed in the course of 2007, during the surge, and some two-thirds of the more than 1.2 million Iraqi refugees who ended up in Syria were Sunni Arabs. Baghdad, a symbol of past Arab glory and of the Iraqi nation, became at least 75 percent Shiite, perhaps more.

That outcome has set the stage for further Sunni-Shiite conflict to come. Much of the reduction in the civilian death toll is explained by this simple equation: A formerly mixed neighborhood like Shaab, east of the capital, now has no Sunnis to speak of, and so therefore there are no longer Sunni bodies in the street each morning.

But the troop escalation has failed to stop bombings in Baghdad, and the frequency and deadliness of attacks increased in February and March, after falling in January. In the first 10 days of March, official figures showed 39 deaths a day from political violence, up from 29 a day in February, and 20 in January. Assassinations, attacks on police, and bombings continue in Sunni Arab cities such as Baquba, Samarra and Mosul, as well as in Kirkuk and its hinterlands in the north. On Monday, a horrific bombing in the Shiite shrine city of Karbala killed 52 and wounded 75, ruining the timing of Vice President Cheney's and Sen. McCain's visit to Iraq to further declare victory.

Moreover, Turkey made a major incursion into Iraq to punish the guerrillas of the Kurdish Workers Party from eastern Anatolia, who have in the past seven months killed dozens of Turkish troops. The U.S. media was speaking of "calm" and "a lull" in Iraq violence even while destructive bombs were going off in Baghdad, and Turkey's incursion was resulting in over a hundred deaths. The surge was "succeeding," according to the administration, and therefore no mere attacks by a third country, or bombings by insurgents, could challenge the White House story line.

Meanwhile, for anyone made uncomfortable by all this bloodshed, Cheney is in Iraq to make more bogus links between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks:

[...]Cheney, who spent the night at a sprawling U.S. base in the northern town of Balad, told soldiers they were defending future generations of Americans from a global terror threat.

"This long-term struggle became urgent on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. That day we clearly saw that dangers can gather far from our own shores and find us right there at home," said Cheney, who was accompanied by his wife, Lynne, and their daughter, Elizabeth.

"So the United States made a decision: to hunt down the evil of terrorism and kill it where it grows, to hold the supporters of terror to account and to confront regimes that harbor terrorists and threaten the peace," Cheney said.

I’ve heard some broken records but this is ridiculous. The vice president has become a robotic self-parody, repeating the same tired lies as if someone pushed “play.”


This month, an exhaustive Pentagon-sponsored review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents captured during the 2003 U.S. invasion found no evidence that Saddam's regime had any operational links with the al Qaida terrorist network.

Today we’ll get more fairy tales and misinformation from the Bush Administration about what we’re doing in Iraq, how we’re doing in Iraq, why we’re in Iraq. The media will repeat these lies, and my conservative regulars will come over here with stories straight from Fox News and PowerLine about all the schools we’re building and the glorious new democracy that’s taking root in Iraq.

And a month from now, we’ll still get the same news reports of bombings, more than 4,000 soldiers will have come home in body bags, we’ll invest billions of dollars a month in Iraq instead of our infrastructure at home and making sure our food and drug supply are safe.

Clap louder, people. All hail the great budding democracy in Iraq. But what about the democracy at home?