Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How's Iraq Doin?

In case you forgot about that "other" war, the AP reports:

Evidence collected on the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children...
A soldier in the Marine unit said his fellow soldiers smiled as they carried out the killings. They then threatened to kill him if he told.

Do the free registration thing at The Washington Post online, and read this article. "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like 'All right, let's go get some pizza.'" Chilling.

As this war drags on, and seemingly goes in no direction but a circle, the toll on our soldiers increases exponentially. While the physical casualties may remain low compared to Vietnam, already we're seeing evidence that the psychological impact of Iraq on our troops is growing by the day.

And Bush refuses to even set a goal as to when our troops can come home. He refuses to set a timetable for one reason and one reason only: if we fail to meet the timetable, it will look like a failure of his administration. With nothing but vague, general goals set, Bush has nothing to lose.

But our soldiers have nothing to aim for. Neither do the Iraqi people. With no deadlines to meet, no work is getting done. And the failure to move forward is driving the some of the less principled soldiers among our troops to despair... and sometimes horrifying behavior.

Another Post Article: Rebuilding Iraq An Unfinished Job. Uh, ya think?

I take the following from a March 2006 Fact Sheet, released by our State Department, entitled "Operation Iraqi Freedom: Three Years Later"...

Life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein was marked by brutality, fear, and terror. Iraqis had no voice in their country or their lives. Saddam Hussein devastated Iraq, wrecked its economy, ruined and plundered its infrastructure, and destroyed its human capital.
Now? Well. Life in Iraq is still marked by brutality, fear and terror. The economy is still wrecked, it's infrastructure is still a mess. On the other hand, now Iraqis can vote.

More than 240,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped and are working to protect their fellow citizens.
And they're doing a hell of a job.

Today, nearly half of IEDs in Iraq are found and disabled before they can be detonated...
Nearly half!! Wow. Well, how many IEDs are in Iraq anyway?
During the past six months, Iraqi and Coalition forces have found and cleared nearly 4,000 IEDs...
4,000! In only six months! And that's less than half!?!?! Jesus. That's more than 8,000 IEDs a year they DON'T find!

More than 30 percent of Iraq's schools have been rehabilitated
Wow. 30% in three years! That's 10% per year! At this rate, schools in Iraq will be up and running by 2012! Oh joy!

My point is, there are no benchmarks of success. Bush has refused to set them. They can claim finding 4,000 IEDs is a success... and it is. But in the larger picture, there's no plan in place to eliminate the other 8,000 or so. Not that Bush has revealed anyway (I don't need the details, I just want to know there's a plan). Similarly, 30% of Iraqi schools up and running is a success... but how many are we trying to have up and running by the end of the year? Is another 10% acceptable? No one knows.

Until we know where Iraq is headed, how can we ever hope to get there?

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