Monday, February 19, 2007

Lowered Expectations

NPR reported this morning in headlines (so no linkee) that there had been another bombing in Iraq, killing 18 and wounding 60. This is either so new, or so common, I don't find anything at this hour about it on or (so, again, no linkee, sorry). Yesterday morning in headling Anne Garrels reported on NPR that violence was down in Iraq, a reduction attributed to the American troop "surge" by officials. That, of course, didn't last long. By yesterday afternoon the NYT was reporting:

One day after Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki called the first days of the security crackdown in this capital city a “dazzling success,” two car bombs tore through a crowded market here today and killed at least 60 people.

The attack occurred only minutes after American soldiers passed through the area on patrol, underscoring the difficult nature of trying to quell violence on the bloody streets of Baghdad, where car bombs have been an almost daily occurrence and suicide attacks directed at civilians are so common that many of the markets have been closed to vehicle traffic in recent days.

The blasts today occurred in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad, devastating an open-air market, setting dozens of cars ablaze, and causing the partial collapse of a two-story building that housed several electronics stores.

The street was littered with charred televisions, satellite dishes and small generators. Shattered blue tiles and glass and blood were trampled over as survivors of the attack tried to rush more than 131 wounded people to the hospital. Iraqis wrapped the dead in rugs and blankets and whatever else they could find.
All of this is old news by now, and not really surprising, anyway. Both Anne Garrels and the NYT article noted that Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., commanding general of Multi-National Division Baghdad and the First Cavalry Division said: "the recent respite in violence was probably related to the militants’ need to figure out what the new strategy entailed. 'They are watching us carefully,' he said." No, what was interesting was what the NYT article included from Bush's last press conference:

President Bush has acknowledged that the attacks of suicide bombers will be difficult to stop. He said the immediate goal of his new security plan for Baghdad was to establish “relative peace.”

“I say relative peace, because if it’s like zero car bombings, it never will happen that way,” Mr. Bush told reporters at a news conference last week.
Now, of course, the news is that Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid has called the invasion of Iraq a worse foreign policy blunder than the Vietnam war. Which can be legitimately considered shocking amid the faint hearts of Beltway pundits, I suppose; most of the rest of the country has already drawn that conclusion. What was interesting was the White House response, which wasn't that Sen. Reid was failing to "support the troops" (an ugly charge that's grown more hypocritical lately), but that, according to Tony Snow:

"In point of fact, it was important to get Saddam Hussein out of power," Snow told "Late Edition."
Oh, yeah, and don't forget that funding issue:

[Snow said:] "What I would say to members of Congress is: Calm down and take a look at what's going on, and ask yourself a simple question: If you support the troops, would you deny them the reinforcements they think are necessary to complete the mission?"'

Snow cited surveys that showed a majority of Americans do not want Congress to cut the purse strings for the war.
At least three issues, there, if not more, and none of them have anything to do with one another. But when all else fails, obfuscate, move the goal posts (again), and deny reality.

How low can they go? I mean, really? Someone should have asked Mr. Snow if the Iraqis thought a certain level of car bombings was an acceptable price to be rid of Saddam Hussein. Seems to me they have a say in this, after all. Or would that just return us to the meme that the Iraqis are showing insufficient gratitude for our gift of freedom?

I'll retire to Bedlam....

Update: This may be the attack I heard about this morning, or this may be yet another attack. In either case, it's getting harder and harder to determine what the point of the US military presence is. Clearly the people with the bombs think more troops=more targets.

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