Observations on the world today.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Power to the People 

A letter to the editor which I wrote was published in today's Steubenville Herald Star.
Let’s end the surge

To the editor:

As I write this, it is Sept. 11, 2007, the sixth anniversary of the day that supposedly changed everything. Monday was the day that Gen. David Petraeus spoke to Congress asking that they ignore the GAO report and the recommendations of several military experts, and they instead trust that his own assessment of his own job was the only reliable one.

Three years ago this month, Petraeus wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post in which he said, “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 re-established from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously.” In that same editorial, he also wrote “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.”

To read his pronouncements from that time, one wonders how we have yet to see the Mesopotamian Utopia he promised already come to fruition. Yet, now, he would have us believe that up is down and black is white and that the deadliest summer for American troops since the beginning of the war is actually a sign of progress, and that the surge is somehow working.

To justify the rationalization, Petraeus argues that Iraqi violence is down, but this is true only if you start counting in May, the deadliest May yet, and only if you don’t count car bombings or assassinations where the bullet went through the front of the victim’s skull.

According to the most recent Government Accountability Office report I referred to earlier, the “average number of daily attacks against civilians have remained unchanged from February to July 2007.” Another GAO report earlier this summer showed that the Pentagon lost track of nearly 200,000 weapons given to Iraqis. Moreover, U.S. troops died in greater numbers every month this year compared to the same month last year. Also, a recent BBC survey of Iraqis found that 70 percent think the escalation worsened rather than improved security conditions.

These are the facts of the surge. It is time for us, as Americans, to recognize that the Iraqi invasion was a mistake at every level and to insist that the president acknowledge the failure of his ideological best wishes and to leave the fate of Iraq to the people of Iraq. In fact, the 20-member independent panel led by retired Marine Gen. James Jones last week recommended the “significant reductions, consolidations and realignments would appear to be possible and prudent.” Said Jones, “The force footprint should be adjusted in our view to represent an expeditionary capability and to combat a permanent-force image of today’s presence.”

J. David Core


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