Today, the Washington Post burnished its "lib'rul media" credentials with two reports suggesting that not everyone is as enthusiastic as Hillary about keeping Bush's misadventure in Iraq going for another ten years.
In the first, members of Scott Beauchamp's unit express their pessimism about the Awakening of anything other than ethnic cleansing in Iraq. The unit, of course, is being described as a "fly in the ointment" by the cheerleaders - and John Cole channels winnuttia perfectly to parody their blinkered methodology.
But of more interest to those seeking facts rather than outrage will be the signs that falling casualty rates in Iraq have reasons beyond Petraeus' Surge. Ethnic cleansing is perhaps the most prevalent of those reasons:
American soldiers estimate that since violence intensified this year, half of the families in Sadiyah have fled, leaving approximately 100,000 people. After they left, insurgents and militiamen used their abandoned homes to hold meetings and store weapons. The neighborhood deteriorated so quickly that many residents came to believe neither U.S. nor Iraqi security forces could stop it happening.In the other piece, the WaPo reports that the State Department cannot come up with enough inducements to fill it's roster for the Baghdad embassy, and is resorting to ordering diplomats to serve in Iraq.
The descent of Sadiyah followed a now-familiar pattern in Baghdad. In response to suicide bombings blamed on Sunni insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Shiite militias, particularly the Mahdi Army, went from house to house killing and intimidating Sunni families. In many formerly mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad, such as al-Amil and Bayaa, Shiites have become the dominant sect, with their militias the most powerful force.
"It's just a slow, somewhat government-supported sectarian cleansing," said Maj. Eric Timmerman, the battalion's operations officer.
On Monday, 200 to 300 employees will be notified of their selection as "prime candidates" for 50 open positions in Iraq, said Harry K. Thomas, director general of the Foreign Service. Some are expected to respond by volunteering, he said. However, if an insufficient number volunteers by Nov. 12, a department panel will determine which ones will be ordered to report to the Baghdad embassy next summer.Actually, I make it only 49 diplomats required. I'm certain DaveinBoca will be happy to come out of retirement, and even take a demotion if that's what it needs, to help push his beloved occupation along the road. he even speaks Arabic (although his oft-written dislike for Arabs might be a problem).
"If people say they want to go to Iraq, we will take them," Thomas said in an interview. But "we have to move now, because we can't hold up the process." Those on the list were selected by factors including grade, specialty and language skill, as well as "people who have not had a recent hardship tour," he said.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice previewed a possible shortfall in June, when she ordered that positions in Iraq be filled before any other openings at the State Department headquarters in Washington or abroad are available. At the time, Rice said it was her "fervent hope" that sufficient numbers would continue to volunteer. Her order followed a request by Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker in Baghdad for an increase in the number and quality of economic and political officers.
Although a few skilled individuals were ordered to "hard-to-fill" diplomatic posts in past decades, there have been no mass "directed assignments" in the Foreign Service since 1969, when an entire class of 15 to 20 entry-level officers was sent to Vietnam, Thomas said.
Those who receive the selection letters will have 10 days to file a written notice of objection. The review panel will consider the objections, but Thomas made clear that a serious, documented medical condition is likely to be the only valid excuse. The department has the authority to fire anyone who refuses to accept an assignment.
In fact, those who support the occupation now have a heaven-sent opportunity to do their bit without having to join the military - they could all volunteer for this State Dept. urgent need. Wurmser, Ledeen, Bolton - all could volunteer for lowly posts in Baghdad. Abrams could volunteer for a demotion in order to fill a crucial skill gap. There are countless rightwing bloggers who already know how to save Iraq who could serve willingly.
But maybe not. Like the politicking officers of MNF-I they are, in the words of one of the soldiers the WaPo interviewed, blinkered by their own wishes:
The American people don't fully realize what's going on, said Staff Sgt. Richard McClary, 27, a section leader from Buffalo.Not so much Dukes of Hazzard as Dukes of PlazaToro.
"They just know back there what the higher-ups here tell them. But the higher-ups don't go anywhere, and actually they only go to the safe places, places with a little bit of gunfire," he said. "They don't ever [expletive] see what we see on the ground."