Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Miss Otis Regrets

UPDATE: below

Snowballs were seen in Hell and pigs flew yesterday--when the New York Times reported the surge is working:
The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.

As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.

Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country.
Next up: hastle-free Thanksgiving travel and getting along with ones family for the entire weekend.


Amir Taheri in the November 26th New York Post:
"A torrent of good news": So The New York Times described the reports of a significant fall in violence in Iraq. But reducing all Iraqi news to measures of violence can hamper understanding of a complex situation.

Those who opposed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 prefer to focus on violence, for it has seemed to confirm their claim that the war was wrong. They've downplayed all good news from post-Saddam Iraq - the end of an evil regime that had oppressed the Iraqi people for 35 years; the return home of a million-plus Iraqi refugees in the first year after liberation; the fact that the Iraqis got together to write a new constitution and hold referendums and free elections - for the first time in their history - and moved to form coalition governments answerable to the parliament. . .

Iraq today is a hundred times better than what it would have been under Saddam in any imaginable circumstances. Statistics of violence don't begin to measure the efforts of a whole nation to re-emerge from the darkest night in its history. And in that sense, the news from Iraq since April 2003 has always been more good than bad.

What is new is that now more Americans appear willing to acknowledge this - good news in itself. As long as the United States remains resolute in its support for the new Iraq, there will be more good news than bad from what is at present the main battlefield in the War on Terror.
Taheri's not totally rosy--he cites "bad news" such as:
* All programs for training the new Iraqi army and police are behind schedule. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) hasn't met even a third of its quota. Only one Iraqi officer is training at Sandhurst, the famed British military academy. (Former Prime Minister Tony Blair had promised 22 places.)

* A new leadership elite has emerged locally, but isn't represented in central decision-making. In parts of the country, the officials in place are isolated, if not actually disliked, while unofficial leaders organize and manage some services that government should provide.

* The parties dominating the parliament have failed to set a date for local elections - without which full return to normal is unlikely. The former exiles who now dominate know they'd lose power in any elections to new groups led by homegrown figures.
(via TimesWatch.Org, American Power)

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