Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Iraq is a quagmire, Bush is a moron, tra la la la

General Petraeus-Person of the YearGeneral Petraeus-Person of the Year

Belly dancers, revelers and young people in snakeskin boots. Baghdad celebrates the new year-
"I haven't seen a happy place like this in so long. I wanted to see if I could maybe meet a few girls!" he said. "I only hope the Iraqi people can enjoy more happy times like this."

Salah al-Lami, 27, the singer who performed at the Palestine ballroom and then for another New Year's Eve crowd at the Sheraton Hotel across the street, said it was the first time he had sung before a live audience in four years.

"This will be the year that we take our freedom!" he told Reuters after singing through a boisterous set in front of a packed dancefloor.

"When I went up on the stage and started singing I felt like I was performing for my family."

Belly dancers also took the stage, and revelers showered a female singer with dinar notes, the Iraqi audience's ultimate sign of approval.

But hush, don't tell it to the editors of the Hindustan Times. They are quagmired too deep down in their narrative-

No glad tidings in Iraq
If there were prizes for the most die-hard optimist of 2007, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki would probably have won it, edging out US President George W. Bush. The Iraqi premier was quoted as saying last week that al-Qaeda and terrorism in Iraq will be defeated in the New Year, followed by reconstruction and development of the country.

there has been an improvement in the security situation in many troubled areas in Iraq, including Baghdad.

But those lying Americans must not be allowed to take credit-
US generals claim that the American ‘troop surge’, which increased the number of troops and “embedded” more American advisers in Iraqi units, was responsible for bringing down the violence.

The editor's vote goes to Moqtada Sadr-
But then so would the Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose order last August to his Mehdi Army militia to halt hostilities for six months made a bigger difference on the ground.

Now the real meat- whether Iraq is a disaster or on the road to recovery, let's all feel good by blaming Bush for the billionth time-
Whichever way it happened, the people of Iraq would welcome this “lull”, which curiously also gives Mr Bush an opportunity to publicly admit that Washington has failed to achieve its original mission in Iraq.

So the editors admit grudgingly to an improvement in Iraq, while not being able to psychologically admit to it's cause -the so far successful strategy of General Petraeus, recently named Person of the Year by the Sunday Telegraph.They would rather be confined to a looney bin than give credit to Bush who against all the wailing of the pundits went ahead with the surge. Incidentally, the editors of the Hindustan Times were vehemently against the surge.

According to the Sunday Telegraph-
To appreciate the scale of the task Gen Petraeus took on, it is necessary to go back to February 22, 2006. Or, as Iraqis now refer to it, their own September 11. That was when Sunni-led terrorists from al-Qaeda blew up the Shia shrine in the city of Samarra, an act of provocation that finally achieved their goal of igniting sectarian civil war.

A year on, an estimated 34,000 people had been killed on either side - some of them members of the warring Sunni and Shia militias, but most innocents tortured and killed at random. US casualties continued to rise, too, but increasingly American troops became the bystanders in a religious conflict that many believed they could no longer tame.
Nine months on, things do seem to have improved, thanks largely to Petraeus's extraordinary coup of turning Sunni insurgents against their extremist allies in al-Qaeda.

With the chief accelerant in the civil war gone, Shia militias such as the Mehdi Army have also been deprived of their main raison d'ĂȘtre, and with extra US troops on the streets, Iraqis who had previously felt vulnerable to the gunmen now feel safe enough to return home.
[Notice how the editors of the Hindustan Times make Moqtada Sadr's decision appear as if it just happened, without any doing from the Americans -ed]

Also notice that the Sunday Telegraph is not without it's doubts, which is quite a reasonable thing to have on the the subject of Iraq -but they do not flinch from giving credit where due-
Iraq's Shia-dominated government is not alone in worrying that the most controversial of Gen Petraeus's policies - the co-opting of former Sunni insurgents into "concerned local citizens" schemes to fend off Shia militias - may create new, better-organised forces for a renewed civil war once the US finally departs.

Many coalition officials fear such a scenario. Were it to occur, it would confirm the charges of Petraeus's critics that at best he has secured only a hiatus in the collapse of Iraq.

Ultimately, that may prove to be the case.

But it should not overshadow his achievement this year: he has given another last chance to a country that had long since ceased to expect one. And for that, Gen Petraeus is Person of the Year.

And to rub it in, Bill Kristol writes-
One additional point: Petraeus's counterinsurgency stands out not just for its conceptual ambition and the skill of its execution but for its humanity. There were those who argued that the U.S. military could not succeed in counterinsurgency because Americans were not tough and bloodthirsty enough. They said that brutality was essential in subduing insurgents and our humanity would be our downfall.

They were wrong. The counterinsurgency campaign of 2007 was probably the most precise, discriminate, and humane military operation ever undertaken on such a scale. Our soldiers and Marines worked hard--and took risks and even casualties--to ensure, as much as possible, that they hurt only enemies. Compared with any previous military operations of this size, they were astonishingly successful. The measure of their success lies in the fact that so many Iraqis now see American troops as friends and protectors. Petraeus and his generals have shown that Americans can fight insurgencies and win--and still be Americans. For that and so much else, he is the man of the year.

Now that is something the groupthink prevalent at most of our media offices will never let the Indian public hear.They are stuck too deep down in their own mental muck to admit that they, with all their fancy journalism degrees and other qualifications from elite institutions were wrong. They are behaving like a monkey who has learnt an amusing action -like putting on and taking off a cap-and keeps repeating it ad nauseam:

Iraq is a quagmire, Bush is a moron, tra la la la!

(emphasis mine)

On the other hand, General Petraeus is not so good for the blogosphere.