Monday :: Mar 17, 2008

In Iraq, the irony doesn't drip; it bleeds.


by Turkana

In Iraq, the irony doesn't drip; it bleeds.

You remember the last time Saint Maverick went to Iraq to give us a little straight talk about the improving conditions. You remember how he went on a leisurely shopping trip to an open-air market. Wearing a flak jacket. And accompanied by 100 of his closest armed friends. With three Blackhawk helicopters hovering overhead. Not to mention two Apache gunships. Well, he'll be skipping that fun diversion, this time. As John King of CNN explained:

And it will be interesting, because you note that marketplace. It's called the Sorja (ph) marketplace. It's in a Baghdad neighborhood.

We tried to go there today, as a matter of fact. We wanted to see what it looks like now, a year after Senator McCain was here. And he did walk around, and he did say it was proof that there were security gains being made, and that some parts of Baghdad and Iraq were quite safe. And as you noted, he also had 100-plus troops providing his security detail. And many of the merchants in the area, as soon as they were gone, said the neighborhood was quite unsafe.

We got close to that marketplace today, Jim, but our own security advisers here in Iraq didn't want us to go there. They did not believe it was safe for an American to be in that area.

We were in a thriving marketplace nearby, but when you show up, the local Iraqis, well, it is clear that security is better on the street. And it's clear there are more markets open. Just the traffic jams alone tell you that things are better on the streets of Baghdad.

It's also very sensitive potential neighborhoods. That one marketplace, as a matter of fact, that neighborhood, you do see Iraqi police, you do see the Iraqi army. But in truth, that area is controlled by the racial cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army.

It's safer for the Iraqis, but still not safe for Americans. But it's safer for the Iraqis because it's controlled by al-Sadr. Good thing he extended his truce. Otherwise that market might not even be safer for the Iraqis.

In Iraq, the irony doesn't drip; it bleeds.

You remember when Paul Wolfowitz told a Congressional panel:

The oil revenue of that country could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. We're dealing with a country that could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.

Well, the New York Times reports that it's sort of like that, but not quite:

The sea of oil under Iraq is supposed to rebuild the nation, then make it prosper. But at least one-third, and possibly much more, of the fuel from Iraq’s largest refinery here is diverted to the black market, according to American military officials. Tankers are hijacked, drivers are bribed, papers are forged and meters are manipulated — and some of the earnings go to insurgents who are still killing more than 100 Iraqis a week.

“It’s the money pit of the insurgency,” said Capt. Joe Da Silva, who commands several platoons stationed at the refinery.

Five years after the war in Iraq began, the insurgency remains a lethal force. The steady flow of cash is one reason, even as the American troop buildup and the recruitment of former insurgents to American-backed militias have helped push the number of attacks down to 2005 levels.

In fact, money, far more than jihadist ideology, is a crucial motivation for a majority of Sunni insurgents, according to American officers in some Sunni provinces and other military officials in Iraq who have reviewed detainee surveys and other intelligence on the insurgency.

Well, that's a step in the right direction. Money is more important than their religious ideology. Money is the more important ideology. If the Bush Administration can assure that it becomes their most important ideology- more important than lives- they finally will have found some common ground.

In Iraq, the irony doesn't drip; it bleeds.

You remember how the Bush Administration, just a couple weeks ago, said we have to stop troop withdrawals, so we can ensure that our puppet Iraqi government is able to hold local elections. It was just the latest excuse for remaining in Iraq. The latest benchmark. And we know how well that puppet government is doing at meeting such benchmarks. Well, the Washington Post tells us:

Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Thursday.

Petraeus, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that "no one" in the U.S. and Iraqi governments "feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation," or in the provision of basic public services.

See, this is the fun part about benchmarks. It's a perfectly choreographed dance:

a) We can't leave until we have provided enough security to ensure that our puppet Iraqi government can meet these benchmarks.

b) Our puppet Iraqi government fails to meet the benchmarks.

c) Hence, we can't leave.

In other words: there was only one catch.

And about those basic services? The BBC reports:

Millions of Iraqis have little or no access to clean water, sanitation and healthcare, five years after the US-led invasion, according to the Red Cross.

The Swiss-based agency says Iraq's humanitarian situation is "among the most critical in the world".

It warned that despite better security in some areas, millions had been left essentially to fend for themselves.

In Iraq, the irony doesn't drip; it bleeds.

Turkana :: 12:05 PM :: Comments (23) :: Digg It!