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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The fantasy of Bush's war


Wow, I see some good news from Iraq

Bush Defends His Iraq Record, but Concedes Some Setbacks

By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: March 21, 2006

CLEVELAND, March 20 — President Bush on Monday held out the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar as an example of American success in the war, but he also acknowledged in remarks that were as grim as they were hopeful that the city's improvements were not matched in other parts of Iraq.

In the second of a series of speeches meant to build up sagging support for the war, Mr. Bush said American forces had driven insurgents from Tal Afar in 2004, only to see them move back in two months later. The Americans learned from their mistakes, he said, and in 2005 worked with Iraqi forces to retake lost ground and begin to bring the city back to life.

"I wish I could tell you that the progress made in Tal Afar is the same in every single part of Iraq," he told the City Club of Cleveland at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. "It's not."

Over all, Mr. Bush's speech was a positive message that conceded some of the setbacks on the ground, a formulation meant to portray the president as not living in a fantasy world about the three-year-long war.

"In the face of continued reports about killings and reprisals, I understand how some Americans have had their confidence shaken," he said. "Others look at the violence they see each night on their television screens and they wonder how I can remain so optimistic about the prospects of success in Iraq. They wonder what I see that they don't."

To answer that, Mr. Bush told his audience his story of Tal Afar, a city of 200,000 near the Syrian border that was a crucial base of operations for the Iraqi insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The insurgents had turned the city into a nightmare of violence, he said, with beheadings, kidnappings and mortars fired into soccer fields filled with children.

"In one grim incident, the terrorists kidnapped a young boy from the hospital and killed him, and then they booby-trapped his body and placed him along the road where his family would see him," he said. "And when the boy's father came to retrieve his son's body, he was blown up."

But Mr. Bush recounted how American and Iraqi forces initiated a major military offensive against the insurgents last fall, including the construction of an eight-foot dirt wall around the city to cut off escape routes. After successful combat operations were over, he said, more than 1,000 Iraqi forces were deployed to keep order. "In short, you see a city coming back to life," he said


A great story.

Too bad it isn't true.

Juan Cole lists the catastrophes of 2005 in Iraq

4. The US military used Kurdish and Shiite troops to attack the northern Turkmen city of Talafar in August. Kurdish troops, drawn from the Peshmerga militia, were allowed to paint lasers on targets in the city, which were then destroyed by the US air force. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed, and much of the population was displaced for some time. Shiite troops and local Shiite Turkmen informants were used to identify and interrogate alleged Sunni insurgents. Turkey was furious at the attack on ethnically related Turkmen and threatened to halt its cooperation with the US. Although the attack was allegedly undertaken to capture foreign forces allegedly based in the city, only 50 were announced apprehended. The entire operation ended up looking like a joint Kurdish-Shiite attack on Sunni Turkmen, backed by the US military. Turkmen and Kurds do not generally get along, and Turkmen accuse Kurds of wanting to ethnically clense them from Kirkuk. The entire operation was politically the worst possible public relations for the US in northern Iraq, and seems unlikely to have put a signficant dent in the guerrillas' capabilities.

And John Simpson describes life in Iraq after three years of occupation and war

Nowadays, though, people are terrified of crime. There have been more than 10,000 kidnappings, of which at least 1,000 ended in murder.

Having a good job is particularly dangerous. Kidnappers have attacked 76 schools, killing more than 300 schoolteachers in the process.

About 200 university lecturers have been murdered since the invasion. After the murder of a television boss a week ago, the journalists' union formally asked the government to allow journalists to carry weapons.

Few Iraqis will even think about the anniversary of the invasion. Many are still glad that Saddam Hussein was taken off their backs.

But there is a real, abiding anger that the richest nation on Earth should have taken over their country and made them even worse off in so many ways than they were before

posted by Steve @ 12:41:00 AM

12:41:00 AM

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