Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Get Comfy, This is Going to be a Long One...

No, that's not what I told my dates in college. A friend of mine (let’s call him Mr. Republican) sent me this article from the National Review by some guy named Deroy "Howlin' Mad" Murdock, I suppose in an attempt to get me to see “the truth” about what's going on in Iraq. Instead, I was struck by a few things (ok, many things) that I find, shall we say, retarded.

Amid roadside bombs, constitutional tensions, and even a blinding sandstorm last Monday […] one wonders if anything is going right in Iraq. Plenty is, actually, although the mainstream media rarely mention such good news.

Oh boy, this guy’s going to show us all the things that are going right in Iraq, and how we’re all just being a bunch of Negative Nellies by focusing on depressing stuff like all the soldiers getting blown to smithereens and such. I can hardly wait. Do continue, Deroy, if that is your real name.
Major news outlets correctly focus on the depressing consequences of the Improvised Explosive Devices and car bombs reponsible for 70 percent of July’s U.S. military fatalities in Iraq. Terrorist assassinations of civil servants and police officers obviously deserve coverage.

So far, so good. He seems fairly reasonable.
But it honors neither America’s soldiers nor Iraq’s selfless patriots to overlook the achievements they share in this new republic.

Ok, I can go along with that. I feel the same way about smearing the grieving mother of a fallen soldier, so I think we’re close on this one.
According to the Brookings Institution’s indispensable "Iraq Index", on-duty Iraqi security personnel have risen from 125,373 in January to 175,700 today. They fight beside Coalition forces against terrorists and Baathist holdouts.

Ooookay. Apparently Deroy is hoping nobody actually looks at the Iraq Index. There’s a quote from Lt. Gen Petraeus listed in the March numbers, when Total Iraqi Security forces were listed at 151,618. He said “off-the-cuff” that about 50,000 security forces were “trained and effective.” (page 21) Which is the problem with all these numbers. You can throw a uniform on a guy and give him a gun, but that doesn’t make him an effective soldier or policeman. A couple of months ago, ran an interesting article about the effectiveness of Iraqi Security Forces, which illustrates the problem:
From Salon: In early November, in the wake of the battle for Fallujah, Q-West, which had been pretty peaceful to that point, "fell apart," in the words of Maj. Kevin Murphy, 36, Becker's operations officer. Rather than stand and fight, most police in Q-West dropped their weapons and ran. They never came back.

By mid-November, Becker says, "I went from 2,000 police to 50." There was a similar exodus in the Iraqi army. "Let me tell you, there were some sleepless nights," he says.

Around the same time, Iraqi police in the contested city of Samarra "dissolved" under insurgent attacks, according to 42nd Infantry Division Capt. Robert Giordano. U.S. troops in Mosul, Samarra and elsewhere had no choice but to rebuild local forces from scratch beginning in November.
Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top American officer in the Middle East, pointed in particular to the Iraqi police forces, who he said lack ''sophistication, chain of command, [and] cohesion of leadership," and are susceptible to corruption and intimidation. ''I don't know how much I would say time-wise they're behind, but they are behind,'' he said, according to the Associated Press.

So, back to Deroy. He also doesn’t mention this graph on page 8:

Luckily, Deroy is a “glass is 1/100th full and not 99/100th empty” kinda guy. And I love saying that name. Deroy.
Civil-affairs work by uniformed personnel may have persuaded average Iraqis to furnish useful information. On August 5, GIs and medics from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Division, plus Iraqi police, performed health screenings on 200 children in Mosul. They also gave these kids soccer balls. During five such missions since mid-July, at least 1,000 of Mosul's kids have received basic medical attention.

Soccer balls! It’s so simple! We’ve got this thing licked now! We’ll just… hand… out… soccer… what the fuck? Handing out soccer balls and providing basic health care to Iraqi kids “may have persuaded average Iraqis to furnish useful information?” Wildly speculate much, Deroy? I have this magic rock that keeps away tigers too, Deroy, maybe you’d like to buy it? Can't...stop..saying...Deroy.
Most Iraqis actually see the overall security situation improving. A July 12-17 Tips Hotline survey of roughly 1,200 Iraqis in Baghdad, Basra, Diyala, Irbil, Najaf, and Salah Ad-Din found that 75 percent of respondents believe their security forces are beating anti-government fighters. Twenty percent saw the security situation as “somewhat worse” than in April, and 14 percent found it “much worse,” but 46 percent considered it “somewhat better,” and 16 percent described it as “much better.”

Sooooo, a survey conducted as part of a program that allows Iraqis to gives tips about suspected insurgent activity finds that “most Iraqis” are opposed to the insurgency and see the government as winning. I mean— can we— do I really have to explain—
Ok, I’ll say this slowly so Deroy can understand it. Do you think there might, perhaps, possibly, be problems with regard to the representativeness (I think I made that word up) of a survey about attitudes toward the insurgency conducted amongst people who are calling in to report insurgents, and therefore, by definition, against the insurgency? It’s kinda like taking a survey of only guys with Cheesehead hats and green-and-yellow painted faces at Lambeau field and asking them about their attitudes toward the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. I'll go out on a limb and predict "For" and "Against," respectively.
The deaths of 54 American troops in July were maddening and painful tragedies, one and all. But these fatalities were considerably below the 137 GI deaths recorded last November, though only 36 were killed last March.

So, this is his evidence that things are getting better? Fewer soldiers got killed in July than in November? Halfway through August, we’ve already lost more troops than July. And apparently he didn’t look at the following graph on page 4 of the Brookings Iraq Index before he wrote that list bit. Otherwise he would have seen that a reduction in deaths from one month to the next doesn’t necessarily mean a downward trend overall.

Infrastructure improvements also are encouraging. Blah blah water treatment blah blah.

I think I should point out here that you don’t get to take credit for bombing the shit out of something and then rebuilding it. Blowing up a power plant and rebuilding it three years later is not progress. It’s getting back to the starting point.
Some 18,000 pupils will study in rehabilitated classrooms when they go back to school in mid-September. According to U.S. and Iraqi officials, 43 more schools were slated for renovation on August 6. So far, 3,211 schools have been refurbished, and another 773 are being repaired.

You know, there are a couple thousand AMERICAN schools that could use renovation and refurbishing, and wouldn’t result in the deaths of almost 2000 American soldiers. Just saying…
Iraq’s monthly petroleum exports have grown from $200 million in June 2003 to $2.5 billion last month.

Well thank god for THAT! Finally, something to be proud of! (Oooh, a sarcasm detector, that's a real useful invention!)
Iraqis who endured Baathist censorship now enjoy a vibrant, free press. Commercial TV channels, radio stations, and independent newspapers and magazines have zoomed from zero before Operation Iraqi Freedom to — respectively — 29, 80, and 170 today.

Yes, but do they have Iraqi Idol yet? Funny that a free press took us decades (or centuries) to develop here, and the Iraqis have done it in 3 years! Good for them. Or, uh, maybe just the number of commercial TV stations isn’t really a good indicator of a “free press," per se.
Internet subscribers have boomed from 4,500 before Iraq’s liberation to 147,076 last March, not counting the additional Iraqis who use Internet cafes. When Saddam Hussein fell, Iraq had 833,000 telephone subscribers. In July, that figure soared 356.4 percent to 3,801,822.

So they call their relatives every night to make sure they didn’t get blown up by a roadside bomb! Bitchin’! A couple thousand soldiers got slaughtered and all I got was lousy Sprint long distance service!
In the political arena, women hold seven of Baghdad’s top 40 ministerial positions. While Iraq is more than 17.5 percent female, this is an impressive level of political involvement for women in the world’s most sexist region.

Oh Deroy, you sneaky scamp, you! See what he did there? He changed the focus from Iraq to the whole Middle East! Here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about women under Saddam’s regime:
Historically, Iraqi women and girls have enjoyed relatively more rights than many of their counterparts in the Middle East. The Iraqi Provisional Constitution (drafted in 1970) formally guaranteed equal rights to women and other laws specifically ensured their right to vote, attend school, run for political office, and own property. Yet, since the 1991 Gulf War, the position of women within Iraqi society has deteriorated rapidly. Women and girls were disproportionately affected by the economic consequences of the U.N. sanctions, and lacked access to food, health care, and education. These effects were compounded by changes in the law that restricted women's mobility and access to the formal sector in an effort to ensure jobs to men and appease conservative religious and tribal groups.

So, it’s disingenuous to imply that women were as oppressed in pre-war Iraq as they are in other Middle Eastern countries. Certainly life wasn’t ideal, or even good maybe, but it wasn’t exactly Saudi Arabia or Taliban Afghanistan, either.
Despite the Left’s ceaseless lies to the contrary, America’s 138,500 GIs do not fight alone in Iraq. A multi-national force of some 23,000 soldiers still stands shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. and NATO.

Ceaseless lies!!! Hee hee, he sounds like Ming the Merciless or Dr. Doom or somebody. Seriously, though, he’s right. We aren’t going it alone. Although if you take out the UK, all those other nations only contribute 15,000 troops. So, we and the UK contribute 90.5% of the troops in Iraq, and the rest of the world contributes 9.5%. Really. This site has a pie chart and everything. And I haven’t found any data about how many of that 9.5% are combat troops and how many are support staff. And don’t forget Poland!
…terrorists there know just one word: “Destroy.” They interchangeably demolish people and property in their quest to turn Iraq into a 1980s-style Beirut as big as California. These mainly foreign murderers contribute absolutely nothing positive. They neither construct, nor maintain, nor clean anything that does not go “Boom!”

Can’t… stop… laughing…
Last September 30, suicide bombers killed three dozen children who gathered around U.S. soldiers as they gave away candy at the celebration of the opening of a Baghdad water-treatment facility. These Islamo-fascist butchers must be eliminated as thoroughly as Orkin dispatches rats.

There Deroy goes again, focusing on the negative instead of the positive! He should go get a job on Air America with Al Franken, the America-hating commie!
The White House communications team — hobbled by institutional bashfulness and a nearly terminal incapacity for self-expression — must educate Americans and allies more effectively on what works in Iraq.

Institutional bashfulness?! What the fuck? First of all, it takes brass balls for these guys to even SPEAK to the American people without apologizing to us for 45 minutes first. Second, did you ever think maybe they don’t trumpet all this stuff as progress because the average thinking American (I’ll admit, it’s probably a group the National Review doesn’t have much contact with) will look at some refurbished schools, some better phone lines, and the fact that Iraqi’s can watch MTV now, and weigh that against the 1858 dead American soldiers, and decide that this so-called "progress" isn’t fucking worth it?

There, that'll keep you all busy for a while!

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