Friday, October 01, 2004

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

I wanted to provide an update to my post about the cynical opportunism displayed by the Bush administration's by their decision to help to prepare the content and delivery of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's speech before Congress late last month. The criticisms of Allawi's speech by Kerry and some in his campaign team drew the ire of right wing pundits and bloggers. The outrage was two-fold. On the one hand, Kerry and his campaign were lambasted for suggesting that Allawi was a "puppet" of the Bush administration. On the other hand, there were accusations that Kerry was demoralizing the effort by claiming that Allawi was white-washing the realities of the insurgency. Kerry, it was argued, was being overly pessimistic whereas Allawi was merely reporting the good news that the media was ignoring.

Consider this quote from the Allawi speech, via
Josh Marshall:

"In Samarra, the Iraqi government has tackled the insurgents who once controlled the city."

-Ayad Allawi (Address to Congress September 23rd, 2004)

Now contrast Allawi's rosy assessment of the scene in Samarra with the reality of the situation. Far from being under the control of the Iraqi government, Samarra has been besieged by violence and conflict between insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi forces for months (including the period when Allawi made his speech a week ago), despite a tentative, and tenuous, cease fire that had been reached in early September which collapsed days later.

Recent events belie the statements made by Allawi, and show the criticisms of Kerry to be valid. This article was reported in the
Associated Press:

U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major assault Friday to regain control of the insurgent stronghold of Samarra, trading gunfire with rebel fighters as they pushed toward the city center. The United States said 96 insurgents were killed.

It was not known if the push into Samarra represented the start of a larger campaign to retake several cities that insurgents have rendered "no-go" zones for U.S. and Iraqi troops. Officials have said that recapturing those cities is key before nationwide elections scheduled for the end of January.

The offensive came in response to "repeated and unprovoked attacks by anti-Iraqi forces" against Iraqi and coalition forces, the military said in a statement. Its aim was to "facilitate orderly government processes, kill or capture anti-Iraqi forces and set the conditions to proceed with infrastructure and quality of life improvements."

"Unimpeded access throughout the city for Iraqi security forces and multinational forces is non-negotiable," the statement said.

The military said insurgent attacks and acts of intimidation against the people of Samarra had undermined the security situation in the city, regarded as one of the top three rebel strongholds in Iraq, along with Fallujah and the Baghdad slum known as Sadr City. [emphasis added]
Not exactly a city under the control of Iraqi forces, with the insurgents on the run. I think all those that pounced on Mr. Kerry for pointing out that Allawi was not accurately portraying the facts on the ground in Iraq owe him an apology. Apparently, he is the one candidate brave enough to tell it like it is. And for those that derided the use of the "puppet" charge, why don't you direct your righteous indignation at the folks who thought it prudent to actually prepare the speech and coach Allawi on its delivery. How was that supposed to look in a country that was already suspicious of Allawi's subservience to Washington in the first place? If the perception of Allawi as a puppet so endangers the mission, do you think it was worth it to score some campaign points to so thoroughly undermine his credibility back home? Again, don't blame the messenger.

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