Inhofe: General Petraeus Understates Success in Iraq

Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 08:08 AM

Tired of the doom and gloom over Iraq? All you have to do is switch media. Try the American Family Network's OneNewsNow.com, where you can read about Senator James Inhofe's statements upon recently returning from Iraq.

Excerpt from that story:
Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) included stops in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province. He says "the successes in Iraq are far greater" than what General David Petraeus shared with members of Congress last week.

"The Iraqis have now taken over; they have the numbers and the capacity and they've taken over the battle space in Fallujah," Inhofe points out. "In other words, they're providing their own security," he says. "It's a success story in Fallujah, one of the most difficult areas to deal with."

The situation on the ground in Iraq has improved considerably, the Oklahoma senator asserts. "The troop surge has given us the troop numbers to push al Qaeda out of most of the area in the Anbar province and allowed governance to hold onto their own destiny," he says.

"This is a major change," Inhofe asserts. "This is my seventh time in this area, and the Sunni tribes now see the need to work together with us against al Qaeda," he says.

"They've never done that before," the Republican senator contends, "but they realize now, there are a lot of people in the United States who want to cut and run, and I'm seeing a new kind of cooperation. The Iraqis now have a vision for Iraq and see their place as an important, self-ruling governance."

How can this be? How can a current member of the Senate return from an eye-witness trip to the country of Iraq and be so full of confidence and success, when all the media around him is saying the opposite? Perhaps it's because, as One News Now's "About" site puts it:
AFN is a national Christian news service that exists to present the day's news from a Christian perspective. ...At OneNewsNow.com, you will get your news from reporters you can trust to give the latest news without the liberal bias that characterizes so much of the "mainstream" media.
Or it might have something to do with Senator Inhofe, who happens to be the same Senator Inhofe who has led the battle against the scientists warning about global warming, using theories and conclusions that mainstream scientists have repeatedly debunked.

In any case, the Senator's take on Iraq sure is different than the take of the US Government itself, and of an Iraqi deputy prime minister. According to a story by James Glanz in the May 16 International Herald Tribune:

Newly declassified U.S. data show that as additional American troops began streaming into Iraq in March and April, the number of attacks on civilians and security forces there stayed relatively steady or at most declined slightly, in the clearest indication yet that the troop increase could take months to have a widespread effect on security.

Even the suggestion of a slight decline could be misleading, since the figures are purely a measure of how many attacks have taken place, not the death toll of each one. U.S. commanders have conceded that since the start of the troop increase, which Washington calls a "surge," attacks in the form of car bombs, with their high death tolls, have risen.

...

When asked about the new data, Barham Salih, an Iraqi deputy prime minister, said in an interview that the troop increase was having a positive effect in specific neighborhoods in Baghdad, particularly in the Shiite-dominated eastern half of the city. But Salih said Iraqi intelligence had concluded that Al Qaeda was in effect surging at the same time in Iraq to counteract the U.S. program, damping any immediate gains.

Salih also said that insurgents had to some extent fled Baghdad, where the increase is concentrated, to outlying areas like the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, the Kurdish north and the ethnically mixed province of Diyala, north and west of Baghdad, where major attacks have taken place in recent weeks.

If you want to get a flavor for how bad things are getting in the north of Iraq, which had been relatively safe, check out this story on Kirkuk, which includes this:
Tensions already are so high in Kirkuk that [Lt. Col. Michael] Browder says just one bomb with mass casualties might be enough to unleash a massive bloodletting. “Everybody’s right on the envelope,” he says.
But that's USA Today; probably more of that liberal bias.

And there's the recent report from the UK's Chatham House think tank, issued this month and titled "Accepting Realities in Iraq." It says, among other things:

  • There is not ‘a’ civil war in Iraq, but many civil wars and insurgencies involving a number of communities and organizations struggling for power.
  • Although the number of civilian deaths in Baghdad has declined since the surge, the continued activities of Al-Qaeda and other groups have ensured that overall fatality rates across the rest of Iraq have, if anything, increased.
  • The surge may have been responsible for two other dynamics – the evacuation of significant numbers of Jaish al-Mahdi militia members from Sadr City, making it more insecure and allowing Sunni Arab insurgents to increase their attacks, and the refocusing of insurgent activity away from Baghdad to other urban centres, including Kirkuk and Mosul.
  • Security in Iraq cannot be ‘normalized’ in a matter of months but instead should be considered within a timeframe of many years. If the Multinational Force is withdrawn, Iraq’s nascent security services would not be able to cope with the current levels of insecurity.
  • It can no longer be assumed that Iraq will ultimately survive as a united entity. The four years since the removal of Saddam’s regime have been deeply unsuccessful for the Multinational Force in Iraq and the new Iraqi government. Iraq’s attempted transition from dictatorship to democracy has been harrowing and multi-faceted violence appears likely to continue and intensify. It can be argued that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation.
Maybe that's some more liberal bias, eh? Except that Chatham House tends to be, if anything, a force for the powers that be in the world, not some progressive or revolutionary force.

How did the UK government respond to this report?

The UK Foreign Office, responding to the Chatham House report, stated that security conditions, although "grim" in places, varied across Iraq.

"Most insurgent attacks remain concentrated in just four of Iraq's 18 provinces, containing less than 42% of the population," a Foreign Office spokesman told the Press Association news agency.

Less than 42% of the population. That's quite comforting, isn't it?

But what can you expect when the President's recently appointed war czar, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, had this to say back in 2005:

You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely Western, foreign troops occupying the country.
I think it's time to speak to Senator Inhofe again. Maybe he can show me that we're having a lot more success in Iraq than the current military commander there and the current war czar say we are.

Or maybe it's just time to realize that American Family Network and its OneNewsNow operation are simply a new illustration of Marshall McLuhan's "the media is the message."

Comments

I thought it was a troop surge in Baghdad, but it seems you are using data covering Iraq as a whole to discount the efforts in Baghdad. As I read the stories daily I have noticed a trend of the attacks being pushed out to a perimeter around Iraq that seems to be expanding. It seems as though the terrorists are being pushed out but our patriotic media of dissent is doing all they can to make sure we loose our resolve first.

But hey, UBL said in his Fatwah that Mogadishu showed America could be easily defeated and aroused courage in the hearts of true nations. But of course forcing UBL to fight on two fronts has not taken any of his resources away from planning new attacks and our retreat from Iraq will not embolden anybody, right? Yes, I am aware that enforcing sanctions on Iraq emboldened some folks as well. Perhaps we need more patriotic media outlets to print specious assertions about US Oil Companies stealing Iraqi resources since local Iraqi governments can negotiate contracts.

God help the millions of Iraqis who are standing up to defend their new found freedoms and all of those who have seen a glimpse of long term hope for their country, but will now have to fight the terrorists, the American media, and the US Congress.

Follow the money! Inhofe was handed big campaign dollars by Exxon-Mobil. It's pure spin. He also says global warming is a fairy tale. Now, wonder who wrote his script for both yarns? Mmmmmmmm???

"I thought it was a troop surge in Baghdad, but it seems you are using data covering Iraq as a whole to discount the efforts in Baghdad."

Inhofe's comments concern Iraq as a whole, not just Baghdad (he talks extensively about Fallujah, for example), and my piece is responding to Inhofe. In any case, the surge is obviously not intended to combat just the violence in Baghdad; it is the entire country that is & must be relevant to any assessment of success.

What the Chatham report essentially says is that the surge in Iraq has, at best, induced the insurgents and the participants in the many civil wars to move their operations elsewhere for the time being. There has been no overall decrease in the violence and there are no signs that there will be a decrease any time soon.

The fact that the north--Mosul, Kirkuk, etc.--is becoming more violent & volatile is a very bad sign. And the fact that the newly appointed "war czar" is already on record that the presence of Western troops there is a big part of the problem does not bode well for our current (or past) policies there.

Finally, my piece really wasn't about my opinion on the success or failure in Iraq, but the absurdity of Inhofe's claims, and the willingness of American Family Network to report them as though they were truth and all the maistream media was propaganda.

1) Afghanistan stabilized by moving conflict to Iraq (Saddam offering $25, $50, $100 thousand dollar rewards for insurgents to go to Afghanistan, destroy military equipment, or kill an American.)

2) Saddam/Ba'athist tyranny ended.

3) Genocide of Kurds ended.

4) Bloody massacres and rapes of Shi'ites by Saddam, et al, ended.

5) Threat of Saddam's WMD (real or imagined) ended.

6) First Iraqi constitution voted on.

7) First Iraqi election and choice of democratic government.

8) Death of high ranking al Qaida leadership.

9) Execution of Saddam and murderous 'cabinet.'

10) Hope for continued freedom and democracy for millions of Iraqis

There are lots of things that are good and that have come from this war. However, some people can only list the faults -- and they have to spin and misdirect, while they do -- that are small and trifling in comparison. Of course, that is why they assiduously avoid the comparison(s.) They want to keep their fellow man in ignorance but tied to their ideology through their pretense of being anti-war. To do that, lies must be told at all levels: from omission to mendacity ... to each other and everyone else ...

Not a word was heard from them when a Democrat president led us into a civil war ... to end genocide there and to protect our national interests ... only now when a Republican president is in a war do they become anti-war, while gaining votes by subverting our successes there and calling for abandonment of all we've accomplished.

Thomas A. Dowe

To Thomas A. Dowe:

The post was about Inhofe's claims regarding the current state of things in Iraq, and how completely at odds those statements are with the statements of the US government itself, and with sources like the Chatham House report. Your response seems to be to "Democrats" or "antiwar" people in general.

How does what you view as the Democratic response to Bosnia affect that? How does your list of accomplishments affect that? Are you saying that anything that now happens in Iraq is okay with you because invading Iraq accomplished these things?

As to the list of accomplishments, certainly you know that the "Death of high ranking al Qaida leadership" is not a result of our ground invasion of Iraq. Nor was ending the genocide against the Kurds.

It seems to me that you are the one taking a one-sided view of Iraq. If your list represents the "benefits"side of invading Iraq, what are you putting on the negative side of the ledger? Even if you think that invading Iraq brought all the accomplishments on your list, what is the current cost? What is the likely future cost to everyone?

If Iraq degenerates further along its current path and splinters into three countries, the largest aligned with Iran, Kurdistan potentially triggering a larger regional war involving Turkey, and the Sunni nation a supporter of anti-US terrorists, will the invasion have been worth it?

If the invasion of Iraq results in a twenty-fold increase in the number of young Muslim men willing to die to get what they see as revenge against the US, will the invasion have been worth it?

If it requires the presence of hundreds of thousands of US troops in Iraq for 20 years to prevent the splintering, will the trillions of dollars and multiple thousands dead and wounded have been worth it?

If a 20+ year war there kills a million Iraqis, wounds two million Iraqis and causes the displacement of 5 million Iraqis, will the Iraqis think it was worth it?

If the net result of this entire adventure--after thousands and thousands of lives are destroyed, huge chunks of major Iraqi cities leveled, billions to trillions of dollars sunk into the effort--is another Saddam emerging to keep the lid on, will the invasion have been worth it?

It behooves all of us, regardless of whether we initially supported the invasion, and certainly regardless of political affiliation, to be taking a damn hard look at what is going on there now, and to do our objective best to determine what the future there will likely be given our course of action.

That is why I find Inhofe's comments so offensive. And why it is laughable that the American Family Network's OneNewsNow.com tries to present that malarky as the reality that the "liberal" media prevents the people from knowing.

In short, Iraq is too damn important and too damn costly in every way for our course there to be decided in the same manner that we were induced to go there--by propaganda.

I am not sure if the last comment was also made by Thomas Dowe, as it purports to have been. So my response assumes that it was.

"my comments were in direct response to this negativism"

In other words, your comments were a general response to a very broad issue, "negativism," as opposed to the very specific information in the post. And your most recent comment does not address the specific questions about whether this adventure will have been worth it if the outcome is one of the possibilities that now seem very likely.

In neither response have you addressed the fact that the US government itself acknowledges that Iraq is going very badly, and that every objective analysis of the situation there indicates that the outcome is likely to be something very unhospitable to the US. Nor the fact that Senator Inhofe's comments appear to be completely removed from reality.

It's unfortunate that you can't seem to address the facts without immediately resorting to a partisan analysis. The "Democrats" are not the ones saying that Iraq is on the verge of becoming a true nightmare for both Iraqis and Americans. Countless Republicans are also saying it, military commanders are saying it, Chatham House and countless other analysts are saying it, the facts are saying it.

I decline to get into a discussion of Bosnia, since that has nothing to do with how things are going in Iraq. If I took your approach to this discussion, I'd be posting the multitude of critical comments from the Republicans during that war, including the strident insistence that it was a mistake to commit troops without an exit strategy.

We all need to ask the specific questions in my last comment, about whther this course of action is going to be "worth it" given the various potential outcomes.

I was the author of the comment to which you responded, by the way--the system dropped my log in for some reason, so the comment did not get auto-signed.

Just because it's so relevant:

To a surprising extent the war-lords in shining armor, the apostles of the martial virtues, tend not to die fighting when the time comes. History is full of ignominious getaways by the great and famous.

George Orwell

Well, Thomas A. Dowe, if that's going to be the level of your discourse, go talk to yourself.

I responded to your list of accomplishments. You either did not read the comments or chose to ignore that so you can continue to rant and insult while accusing others of ranting and insulting.

You did not respond to my questions about whether various outcomes would make this war "worth it." I know that would require you to abandon your venting for a while and get specific, but that's the purpose of discourse.

If you have nothing to discuss, then expect no further responses.

I notice that this Thomas Dowe poster keeps trying to spam this site with rightwing rhetoric and trying to disagree with our leftwing philosophy. Who does this troll think he is?

Thanks for removing his posts, but why did you leave one of them, above? Please remove this post, too, it is nothing but fascist propaganda. All lies.