Tuesday, July 31, 2007

When Shills Contradict Themselves

By Cernig

Remember the NY Times op-ed yesterday by two Brookings scholars that said the war in Iraq was winnable - the one that came in for so much criticism for the way it ignored realities on the ground in order to "shill for the surge"?

Greg Sargent has dug out the July 26th Brookings Iraq Index overseen by none other than...Michael O'Hanlon, one of the two shills in question. It's findings contradict O'Hanlon's own words.
JULY 23, 2007- With what promised to be a pivotal summer now more than half over, the situation in Iraq remains tenuous at best. Even with all surge forces in place and operational, the modest progress made in the security sphere thus far has not had the hoped-for subsequent influence on the political and economic sectors. Adding to the pressure is the steadily increasing demands stateside for a change in strategy. Indeed, the “political clocks” in Washington and Baghdad are perhaps farther apart today than they have ever been.

From a security standpoint, having the full allotment of surge troops in theater has allowed for intensified coalition operations in and around Baghdad aimed at rooting out militants from their sanctuaries. Initial reports indicate that these have led to a decrease in the levels of violence in these areas. However, violence nationwide has failed to improve measurably over the past 2-plus months, with a resilient enemy increasingly turning its focus to softer targets outside the scope of the surge. And while the number of internally displaced persons has declined, it has done so not as a result of security improvements but because there are fewer places for Iraqis to run with a number of provinces unable to accept any more refugees. In assessing the overall sentiment of the Iraqi people recently, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker summed it up in one word: fear.
It goes on to note that there's been no " significant progress in the legislation of any of the critical benchmark laws" and that "economically, 'stagnation' continues to be the key word." Oh, and says there's no electricity.

Greg wonders how O'Hanlon will explain the disparity. Me too. I'd also love to see how Dean Barnett will justify this disparity within his "the left attacks the messenger" meme.

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