Observations on the world today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yesterday, Today and Forever 

U.S. Army Lieutenant General David H. Petraeus - three years ago:
BAGHDAD -- Helping organize, train and equip nearly a quarter-million of Iraq's security forces is a daunting task. Doing so in the middle of a tough insurgency increases the challenge enormously, making the mission akin to repairing an aircraft while in flight -- and while being shot at. Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up.

The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously in the face of an enemy that has shown a willingness to do anything to disrupt the establishment of the new Iraq.
There will be more tough times, frustration and disappointment along the way. It is likely that insurgent attacks will escalate as Iraq's elections approach. Iraq's security forces are, however, developing steadily and they are in the fight. Momentum has gathered in recent months. With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition -- and now NATO -- support, this trend will continue. It will not be easy, but few worthwhile things are.
General David H. Petraeus - This Monday:
Petraeus referred only obliquely to political difficulties in Iraq, saying, "Lack of adequate governmental capacity, lingering sectarian mistrust and various forms of corruption add to Iraq's challenges."

As for the much-maligned Iraqi military, he said it is slowly gaining competence and gradually "taking on more responsibility for their security."
As a result, "I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level ... by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains we have fought so hard to achieve."
Criticized in advance by some opponents of the war, the general went out of his way to proclaim his independence. "I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by nor shared with anyone in the Pentagon, the White House or the Congress," he said.
Using 13 pages of colorful charts, he said, "The level of security incidents has declined in eight of the past 12 weeks, with the level of incidents in the past two weeks the lowest since June of 2006."

Ticking off some of the gains, he said, "We have disrupted Shia militia extremists, capturing the head and numerous other leaders of the Iranian-supported Special Groups, along with a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative supporting Iran's activities in Iraq."

U.S. and Iraqi forces had dealt "significant blows to al-Qaida-Iraq," he said, although he conceded that the terrorist organization remains dangerous.
Nostradamus - 500 years ago:
A doubtful one will not come far from the realm,
The greater part will want to uphold him:
A Capitol will not want him to reign at all,
He will be unable to bear his great burden.
While true that the Nostradamus quatrain is vague and could refer to almost anything, it has the benefit of being probably as accurate and trustworthy if not more so than anything Petraeus has to say.

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