Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Honesty Is Hardly Ever Heard

Honesty sure is hard work. In fits and starts, there has been some movement within various channels of the Bush administration to shift public statements to a more honest footing regarding the struggles that lie ahead in Iraq. Tone down the "last throes" fantasy and allow some Churchill-lite "blood, sweat and tears" to meander into the conversation. The better to prepare the American people for the long, hard, slog and the better to counter false hopes derived from chimerical turning points. In some ways, it is an attempt at an ex post facto corrective to the "flowers and candies"/short war/self-funding reconstruction predictions that were making the rounds prior to the invasion. The same prognostications that are frequently cited as a cause for the erosion of support from the American public that, to some extent, have been left feeling like victims of a geopolitical bait and switch. Or so the theory goes.

As noted in a prior post, however, old habits die hard. Exorcising the demons of spin can be a long, hard, slog in and of itself, especially when there are conflicting personalities behind the scenes not wholly committed to the task at hand. Swopa offers more grist for the mill from an article appearing in the USA Today (emphasis his throughout):

Attacks in Iraq jumped in 2005

The number of attacks against coalition troops, Iraqi security forces and civilians increased 29% last year, and insurgents are increasingly targeting Iraqis, the U.S. military says.

Insurgents launched 34,131 attacks last year, up from 26,496 the year before, according to U.S. military figures released Sunday.
But, as you might guess, according to our military geniuses in charge of the war, this is good news:

Insurgents are widening their attacks to include the expanding Iraqi forces engaged in the fighting, said Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, a coalition spokesman.

He added, "It tells me the coalition and the Iraqi forces have been very aggressive in taking the fight to the enemy."
Sadly, Gen. Alston didn't explain how putting oneself in the path of car bombs and improvised landmines (the use of which, in both cases, doubled last year) constitutes "taking the fight to the enemy."
So to anyone keeping score, the situation looks like this:

1. An increase in violence is a sign of "progress" and "freedom in action."

2. Increases in levels of insurgent activity and attacks are indications that the insurgents are becoming ever more "desperate" and weak.

3. More insurgent attacks every year (including a doubling of IED and suicide bomber attacks) means that we are taking the fight to the enemy and turning the tide.

With that in mind, can anyone doubt what bad news it would be if violence subsided and/or the number of insurgent attacks actually decreased? Beware all those hoping for less insurgent activity in 2006. That would be clear and convincing evidence that: (i) progress was stymied; (ii) freedom was withering on the vine - giving way to resurgent despotism; (iii) the insurgents were enjoying freer reign - self assured and confident in their position; and (iv) that we had ceased taking the fight to the enemy.

I can't imagine what a total cessation of insurgent activity would mean. Complete and total defeat? Most likely.

(cross-posted at American Footprints)

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