The President Versus Reality on Iraq; Who's Really Giving Aid to the Enemy?

Sunday, February 05, 2006 at 07:54 AM

The President and his representatives continually scoff at those of us who think that Iraq is, if not in the toilet, at least close enough to wish it had some air freshener.

The administration has, if anything, renewed the vigor of its public relations campaign to make Americans associate the word "Iraq" with proud, smiling Iraqis holding up a purple thumb, and American troops and civilians standing amidst a group of happy Iraqis as the Iraqis survey a newly constructed ____(fill in the blank).

Compare and contrast.

From the President's State of the Union address, 1-31-06:

"We're on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory.  First, we're helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency will be marginalized.

"Second, we're continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom.

"And, third, we're striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy."

Compare and contrast that with the steady flow of other information about Iraq, including these gems published since the SOTU address:

1. "The papers [filed in court] say that the ring of corruption was much wider than known, drawing at least seven Americans including Mr. Stein, Mr. Bloom, and five Army reserve officers, into what is described as a maelstrom of greed, sex and gun-running at the heart of the American occupation of a conservative Muslim country."
James Glanz, "Wide Plot Seen In Guilty Plea In Iraq Project" 2-2-06 NY Times, page A-1 (describing state of investigation-prosecution of Robert J. Stein, the man with a prior felony conviction who ended up in charge of "at least $92 million of reconstruction money in the south central Iraq city of Hilla during the CPA's reign in Iraq.

2. "Iraqi and American officials say they are seeing a troubling pattern of government corruption enabling the flow of oil money and other funds to the insurgency and threatening to undermine Iraq's struggling economy."
Robert F. Worth and James Glanz, "Oil Graft Fuels The Insurgency, Iraq and U.S. Say," 2-5-06 NY Times. page A-1.

3. "The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has completed a new, classified counterterrorism strategy that for the first time...warns that ill-conceived military operations could add to terrorists' ranks......One senior Pentagon official involved in writing the strategy said the Defense Department had identified more than 30 new terrorist organizations affiliated with Al Qaeda that had sprung to life since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."
Thom Shanker, "Pentagon Hones Its Strategy on Terrorism," 2-5-06 NY Times. page A-10
Published: February 5, 2006

And that doesn't even get into casualty figures, dead and maimed civilians, etc.  I am genuinely happy that the Pentagon at least now recognizes that its military operations can be counterproductive to its own goals if not conducted with real understanding of the problems.  And I suppose you can be happy that at least they are discovering the corruption that Iraqis could have easily told them about long ago.

But I have to wonder at both the length of time it took reality to sink into the Pentagon and some of the civilian overseers.  And I remain boggled that the President still thinks that the American citizenry is so silly and/or uninformed that they will continue to buy his line that all is well in Iraq, and people like me are unpatriotic naysayers who give comfort to the enemy.

Seems to me that these news stories above pretty clearly establish that it is the administration's actions which have been giving aid and comfort to both the enemy and to American con men.