Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Deadliest July yet for U.S. troops. 23% Rise in Iraqi Deaths in July. How does that square with “A War We Might Just Win"?

Yesterday I posted about the July 30th New York Times op-ed, A War We Might Just Win, by Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, and Glenn Greenwald’s post exposing the hypocrisy of O’Hanlon as he presents himself as a consistent opponent of the war in Iraq. O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the liberal think tank, the Brookings Institution.

Glenn Greenwald is still hopping mad about the press’s unquestioning promoting of O’Hanlon and Pollack and their message of hope about the likelihood of success in Iraq. Please take a few minutes to read Greenwald’s July 31 post, A new low of mindlessness for our media - Returning to marvel once again at the deceitful Brookings Institution media spectacle.

My expert on Iraq is Juan Cole, (photo) who blogs at Informed Comment and at the group blog, Informed Comment Global Affairs. Posted this morning at Informed Comment: Deadliest July Yet for US Troops; 23% Rise in Iraqi Deaths in July. Also, according to Juan, June saw the highest number of over-all attacks since the war began.

Cole adds, “I saw Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings on CNN Sunday saying he thought that the violence was less now. (O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack also gave us that uh, optimistic, op-ed about 'a war we could win' in the NYT.) I'd be interested in knowing how he is measuring this supposed fall in violence. If it is the deadliest July ever for US troops in Iraq; if there is a 23% increase in Iraqi deaths over June; if there were more attacks in June than any time since April 2003-- how is that a decrease in violence? Somebody explain that to me.”

You might want to keep your eye on George Packer’s blog. On July 30, he posted that O’Hanlon and Pollack’s op-ed raised more questions than it answered. He promised to get back to us with the answers to these questions about their recent trip to Iraq:

“Who organized their schedule?

"How much time did they spend in each place they visited (Baghdad, Ramadi, Mosul, Tal Afar)?

"How many Iraqis did they speak with, and whom? Did they meet Iraqis without American officers present?

"What could and couldn’t they independently confirm from their briefings by military sources? For example, how do they know that, in Mosul and Tal Afar, ‘the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside’?”

"Finally, what do they mean when they declare at the end, “There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008”? As of a few weeks ago, O’Hanlon advocated a partition of Iraq and Pollack was talking about containing the civil war within Iraq’s borders. Neither of them had much faith that the Administration’s strategy could succeed. Have they changed their minds? If so, what’s their political strategy for sustaining the surge into 2008?"

(photo of Juan Cole from Informed Comment)

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