Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 6, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ANALYZING IRAQ....The Congressional Research Service has done its own independent analysis of Iraq, and it ain't good:

"My assessment is that because of the number and breadth of parties boycotting the cabinet, the Iraqi government is in essential collapse," Kenneth Katzman, the author of the report, said. "That argues against any real prospects for political reconciliation."

Without a political infrastructure in Iraq, any military progress would be short-lived, he added.

Katzman, who grew up in Long Island, also challenged the success of the Baghdad Security Plan, known as the troop "surge," which President Bush claims is working.

"I would even question the military progress," he said.

Many senior State Department officials in Iraq believe a political solution to the war is now "hopeless," according to a top diplomat.

"I would agree with that," Katzman said.

This comes via Steve Benen, who reminds us that we now have four separate reports (from CRS, the GAO, the Jones commission, and our embassy in Iraq) all telling us pretty much the same thing: progress on the security front is tiny at best and progress on the political front is either zero or negative.

But none of that matters, does it? Petraeus and Bush and McCain all say the surge is working. So it's working.

Kevin Drum 2:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Comments

But none of that matters, does it?

No.

This has been another edition...

Posted by: Old Hat on September 6, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

How many of these other reports will be cited in the media when the White House releases its "official" report?

Posted by: PaulB on September 6, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

How many of these other reports will be cited in the media when the White House releases its "official" report?

Ibid.

Posted by: Old Hat on September 6, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Um ... why do we care where Katzman grew up?

Posted by: Anon on September 6, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

It is working. Remember, chaos was the plan...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on September 6, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, and how many of these bureacrats are there, in Iraq, on the ground?

Why can't Democrats take our soldiers' words at face value?

Posted by: Al on September 6, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

General Betrayus

Kevin you are better blogger than me...

I simply can't type that name any other way.

How you stay your fingers from that hideous typographic truth is a remarkable testament to your laid back, So-Cal, surfer personality.

Catabunga!

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on September 6, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Al: Plenty of people have been on the ground in Iraq, and there is a spectrum of views on progress. Many folks, including myself, (I've been there twice this year) are negative.

One thing for sure: the folks W is waiting to hear from are NOT unbiased evaluators. They have every reason to say that their new, shiny policy is working. I am not faulting them or calling them liars, just saying that if you want objective opinions, then the last place you go is the people in charge of shaping and executing the policy.

Again, for objectivity's sake, I'd rely on reports from independent organizations or people, and not just one: use the weight of evidence. Throwing that overboard for a single report from Petraeus and Crocker is a triumph of belief over analysis.

Posted by: searp on September 6, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Why can't Democrats take our soldiers' words at face value?"

Short answer: Because they have lied to us too many times.

Longer answer: The military is using its own classified numbers to justify its position. But the rest of us aren't allowed to see the raw numbers or the methodology. How do we know they aren't just making those numbers up? The Pentagon could clarify their position by releasing their numbers to everyone, but they won't do it. This refusal leads many of us to believe their numbers aren't real.

Posted by: fostert on September 6, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Um ... why do we care where Katzman grew up?"

Heh, I wondered about that. I think it is because the article is from a New York outlet.

Posted by: jefff on September 6, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Why can't Democrats take our soldiers' words at face value?"

You mean, like the seven soldiers that wrote an article in the NYT saying that, basically, everything O'Hanlon and friends was saying was, basically, bunk?

Easy for you to forget what they say when they are saying something you don't like, huh? Why do you hate America?

Posted by: Joshua on September 6, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Anon on September 6, 2007 at 2:40 PM:

..why do we care where Katzman grew up?

Yeah, I saw that too. Answer: We don't, but the article is from the NY Daily News...local interest, prolly.

Posted by: grape_crush on September 6, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

CRS weighs in; GAO takes its shot; waiting for the other "sister" - the CBO - to report on matters Iraqified, re. the budgetary impact. The Congress does indeed have independent, non-partisan investigatory resources of its own. Thank goodness.

That such investigations have even taken place demonstrates that, yes Virginia, elections do have consequences.

Posted by: semiot on September 6, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Why can't Democrats take our soldiers' words at face value?"

Because we tend to take these soldiers at face value.

Army of Dude

Blog of the Unknown Soldier

And countless others. I actually know people in the military. You?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 6, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Um ... why do we care where Katzman grew up?

The NY Daily News is a small town paper, and they like to point it out when one of their own makes it to the big time....

Posted by: Disputo on September 6, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Up is Down
Up is Down
Up is Down

The Surge is Working
The Surge is Working
The Surge is Working

Damn it's too easy.

Posted by: Northern Observer on September 6, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Has no one considered a diagnosis of Dissociative disorder with a co-morbidity of PTSD?

Posted by: absent observer on September 6, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Damn fools - working so hard writing all those reports.


''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Posted by: mm on September 6, 2007 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's good to see that reports by the politically neutral investigative arms of Congress are finally getting some play. It's hard to remember the last time a CRS report made the news, or a GAO report that didn't have to do with taxes or the budget.

Posted by: mfw13 on September 6, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

And no one started commitment proceedings on the whole lot of them, all of them suffering from the same Grand Delusion. (Ooooh...there is a photoshop idea - the movie poster, with the faces replaced with those of neocons...)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 6, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus and Bush and McCain all say the surge is working. So it's working.

Well, it is working for them, isn't it? What else matters?

Posted by: tomeck on September 6, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

The surge was all very stupid - I don't know what Bush was trying to prove. We all know it was too little to late - and that nothing would come of it.

So why are Reid and Levin giving into Bush and the GOP via agreeing on a non-binding redeployment? It how you pretend to end war without out ending it and simply staying course.

I wonder if it will even matter - most the liberal bloggers are every bit as sure that Hillary is God in same way that Glen Reynolds thinks and his counter parts think Bush is the God that you don't question.

Hillary has made a lot ot talk about protecting "our vital national interet" and she wants to leave the military bases in Iraq, the green zone protected - but how do we do that, without the same miltary force that Bush is leaving in Iraq? You can't get out of the war if even the Dem Party won't listen too you. And Hillary wants all of American's youth to do service in some kind of government program - it's another back door draft.

This war is about oil - it has never has been about anything else - Hillary is set to lie about the war EVERY SINGLE BIT as much as Bush did it.

Dems and Repugs are patriotic to labels - because Hillary is saying the same damn shit Bush did - She is going to "stay the course" - she not leaving Iraq - and you know the bloggers won't care as long as it come out of a Dem mouth instead of Bush's mouth.

Posted by: Me_again on September 6, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Not to say I told you so, but I have said it over and over and over again:

THERE IS NO FUNCTIONING GOVERNMENT IN IRAQ. PERIOD. FULL STOP.

There. Once you have processed that bit of information, all of this blather about the "surge" and casualties being down and seasonality and al-Anbar being so rosy becomes meaningless. None of it is sustainable without some semblance of a functional government. Unfortunately for us and the Iraqis, there isn't one.

It's over, folks. Time to pack up and leave. Devil take the hindmost.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 6, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

UM People we won't know if the SURGE is working untill we pull back the troops that made up the surge and see if the violence subsides.So in a nutshell we are only half way through the surge.Because we can't keep the extra troops there forever.

Posted by: john john on September 6, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Iraqi blogger Riverbend and her family made it out of Iraq and into Syria:

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Speed on September 6, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

me again,

I share your mistrust of Hillary. It was her hubby, after all, who bombed Baghdad in the late 90's and fully supported the policy of severe sanctions on Iraq despite increasing European dismay at the human cost to Iraqi civilians. As we know now, Saddam had deep-sixed all WMD programs in '91 so the sanctions and bombing were every bit as much of a 'mistake' as the invasion, albeit less destructive (although lethal in any case to many thousands of Iraqi children). I also share your view that a major reason for this war has to do with oil resources and national 'interest' in a narrow and imperial sense. I was surprised to read in the Draper interview with Bush that he actually said his major concern with Iran having a nuke was the threat of nuclear blackmail having to do with oil. Put more simply, "If Iran gets nukes, then the US ability to invade and control Iran's oil becomes nearly impossible." If you look at what's happening today in Central Asia, with the Russian/Chinese Shanghai pact, etc., it's obvious that the rest of the world interprets the Iraq War as a strategic US move involving resource imperialism. Whether Democrats will take a different view of our national interest remains to be seen.

Posted by: nepeta on September 6, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

So will Gen. Petraeus be the Gen. Westmoreland of this war?

Posted by: Mark Barron on September 6, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "Yes, and how many of these bureacrats are there, in Iraq, on the ground?"

And how is your deployment going, Brave Soldier of the Reich?

Posted by: Kenji on September 6, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

So will Gen. Petraeus be the Gen. Westmoreland of this war?

Definitely was the answer I got.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 6, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly the Iraq war was a fiasco after three weeks when it became obvious that those 1500 WMD sites were old swimming pools and such.

And yet we're still there.

Posted by: Luther on September 6, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

"General Petraeus’s view is considered overly cautious by some other senior military officials and some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. But they said it reflected his concern that the security gains made so far in Baghdad, Anbar Province and other areas were fragile and easily reversed" --New York Times

Having trouble geting what you want? Erect a house of cards then DEMAND that you get what you want. After all, it's fragile.

Posted by: Ross Best on September 6, 2007 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

And that rag, the NY Sun, thinks Betrayass would be a wonderful president.

Shame Judith Miller is going to spend more time with her beloved neo-cons over at the Manhatten Institute - Shame because she would fit in at the Sun so very well.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 7, 2007 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Fits in with his record - in command of the 101st, he was successful in Mosul. Until a few months after he left, when things went to hell. Not nec. his fault, but 'a few months' isn't supposedly the time frame marking success. Success is things holding together for actual years.

Then, in the days of 'as they stand up, we'll stand down', he was in charge of training the Iraqi Army. The goal was to halve US troop strength by 2007.

Instead, we have the surge, because of the failure of the Iraqi Army (and police).

But don't worry! *This time* things will work, never fear!

Posted by: Barry on September 7, 2007 at 7:35 AM | PERMALINK

I'm having trouble imagining that anyone who reads a newpaper or watches the evening news could believe that Iraq is anything but a lawless hell, and has been since we tore down that statue and watched the looting take place.

Of course it's all spin!!! There is NO good news, even in Anbar province. Lies, spin, spun lies, ad nauseum. And a significant fraction of the American people and Congress seem willing to swallow it.

McCain is the worst. My god, I once thought that man had some integrity.

Posted by: pat on September 7, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this the same Kenneth Katzman who warned us BEFORE THE WAR that it would a disaster?
I believe he addressed the shocked AEI members. Does anyone remember?

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