Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Strange Type Of "Success"

If it’s Tuesday, then that means it’s time for more shameless wankery from Bret Stephens (here)…

Richard Nixon came to office with a rumored secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. Maybe Barack Obama's plan to end the war in Iraq is going to wind up being a secret, too.

The presumptive Democratic nominee set off media firecrackers last week by hinting at further refinements to his strategy for withdrawal. Previous strategies include his January 2007 call for a complete withdrawal by March 2008, followed by his call for a complete withdrawal by July 2010, or 16 months after he takes office.
Stephens is only partially correct here (surprising that he got that much right); in January 2007, Obama called for a withdrawal of our combat troops from Iraq by March 2008 here, and afterwards (seeing as how Commander Codpiece has no intention whatsoever of even significantly drawing down our forces, to say nothing of removing combat personnel altogether), Obama revised that strategy to one combat brigade a month for 16 months here.

(And even though we’re talking about the Murdoch Street Journal here, it’s still pathetic to see this spin and misinformation on Obama, who’s actually trying to do something responsible on the most important issue we face, versus Dubya and McBush, who want war without end in Mesopotamia.)

And by the way, concerning Nixon (as noted here), he never said that he had a “secret plan” during the 1968 presidential campaign, but that was the phrasing of a reporter (a matter of semantics, I know). Also…

The election promises of the Nixon administration had positive results for the White House. Many potential peace activists were not ready to march on the Pentagon...until Nixon was given a fair chance. After all, troops were being withdrawn, the bombing had stopped, and diplomats were talking in Paris.[7] In addition, as the White House gradually pulled troops from Vietnam, the media shifted from the destruction of Vietnam--even while the U.S. air war and coordinated ground assaults in Southeast Asia persisted at a very high rate of killing. [8]
But I suppose what really got me frosted in Stephens’ column today was the following…

The delightful irony, of course, is that Mr. Obama's prospective task in Iraq has been made infinitely easier by the success of President Bush's surge, the very policy he derided only a year ago.
And then Stephens says, “gee, that says something about Obama’s judgment, doesn’t it?” And my answer is, “well, considering that he opposed the war from the very start and has continually worked with other members of Congress to try and end it (and by the way, try criticizing Chuck Hagel on this, all you lickspittle pundits, if you just love Dubya’s surge so damn much, since Hagel has been at least as vocal against the war as Obama, probably more so)…yeah, I guess it does say something about Obama’s judgment, and I wish that judgment was shared by more of the Beltway cretins who will say ‘six more months’ forever” – by the way, that “Friedman unit,” if you will, has been used as a barometer by Republicans dating back to the Philippine war fought under President McKinley in 1900.

My main point, though, is that I’m tired of hearing about how “successful” this damn surge has been.

Here are a whole bunch of Iraq war statistics dated about a week ago. I’ll present a few excerpts to indicate the “success” of the surge…

  • Spent & Approved War-Spending - About $600 billion of US taxpayers' funds. In June 2008, President Bush signed a bill approving about 200 billion more for 2008, which will bring the cumulative total to close to $800 billion.

  • U.S. Monthly Spending in Iraq - $12 billion in 2008

  • U.S. Spending per Second - $5,000 in 2008 (per Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on May 5, 2008)

  • Cost of deploying one U.S. soldier for one year in Iraq - $390,000 (Congressional Research Service)

  • Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.

  • Missing - $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (Per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)

  • Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq - $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings

  • Iraqis Displaced Inside Iraq, by Iraq War, as of May 2007 - 2,255,000

  • Iraqi Refugees in Syria & Jordan - 2.1 million to 2.25 million

  • Iraqi Unemployment Rate - 27 to 60%, where curfew not in effect

  • Consumer Price Inflation in 2006 - 50%

  • Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition - 28% in June 2007 (Per CNN.com, July 30, 2007)

  • Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 - 40%

  • Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion - 34,000

  • Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2005 Invasion - 12,000

  • Iraqi Physicians Murdered Since 2003 Invasion - 2,000

  • Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 1 to 2 hours, per Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (Per Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007)

  • Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 10.9 in May 2007

  • Average Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 5.6 in May 2007

  • Pre-War Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 16 to 24

  • Number of Iraqi Homes Connected to Sewer Systems - 37%

  • Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies - 70% (Per CNN.com, July 30, 2007)

  • Water Treatment Plants Rehabilitated - 22%

  • Iraqis "strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops - 82%

  • Iraqis who believe Coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security - less than 1%

  • Iraqis who feel less ecure because of the occupation - 67%

  • Iraqis who do not have confidence in multi-national forces - 72%
  • And speaking of our troop presence, it looks like Nouri al-Maliki believes we’ve worn out our welcome a bit in Iraq (ya’ think?) here, but we know what President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History intends to do about that, right? Which is to say, nothing?

    And while we’re patting ourselves on the back over the surge (even though Iraq STILL doesn’t have an oil law and is trying to work out that whole “power-sharing” thing with the Sunnis), how about noting from this article that, while other countries (notably in Scandinavia) have agreed to take in thousands of Iraq war refugees, we have yet to accept anything more than a trickle by comparison.

    I would ask that you keep this all in mind the next time you hear Stephens, either of the Kagans, Michael O’Hanlon, or any other war cheerleader claim that the surge is a “success” because multiple-fatality bombings in Iraq decreased from 42 in May 2007 to 14 in May 2008, or the country has descended from 160 to 178 on the global corruption list, whatever that means (here).

    I read this line in a Bucks County Courier Times Guest Opinion awhile back, and I think it applies here; if this is success, I’d hate to see failure.

    Update: What Arianna sez...

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