Friday, April 06, 2007

More signs of progress in Baghdad..

I will be posting up my weekly "Good News Iraq" report over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Captain does a great job summarizing Max Boot's latest blog expose on the situation in Baghdad: "Max Boot writes from Iraq of his surprise over John McCain's comments regarding the Iraqi security situation. While he acknowledges that McCain wore body armor and had armed personnel guarding him, Boot points out the obvious -- that McCain makes a good target, but that other assumptions should not be drawn from it. Boot also tells his readers that McCain was right: "Though only three of the five extra brigades scheduled to be deployed have yet arrived in Baghdad, the offensive has already paid big dividends. A semblance of normality is returning in some neighborhoods, markets are reopening, sectarian murders and ethnic cleansings have been dramatically reduced. The situation still isn’t great, but at least the downward trend has been stopped. There have been a few big suicide bombings lately that obscure this improvement, but most of these have been outside Baghdad, where the current security operation is focused. Needless to say, coalition forces can’t magically pacify the entire country overnight—and that can’t be the measure of success or failure. The fact that McCain was able and willing to walk around the Shorja market indicates that things are getting better, even if Iraq remains a war zone. Of course McCain had heavy security; he’s an especially attractive target for insurgents. But the market was functioning normally while he was there, and he wasn’t surrounded by bodyguards. He walked around freely without a helmet (though he was wearing body armor), and mingled with Iraqis. So did the other members of his delegation, as well as General David Petraeus, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq. Boot makes a couple of more points worth considering. First, we have allowed the situation to deteriorate over a period of years; we cannot expect it to rebound entirely within six weeks. The trends support McCain's observations, something ABC's Terry McCarthy independently confirmed earlier this week. Second, we haven't even fully deployed in the new security strategy. Two entire brigades have yet to arrive. Yet neighborhoods have begun returning to normal, businesses have reopened, and barricades and curfews have been abated. All of this comes in the first weeks of General Petraeus' new rules of engagement and tactics without even having all of the men he requested on the streets. Of course, this nuance gets lost when media sources operate from an agenda. Boot has his agenda as well -- he works for McCain as an advisor. Terry McCarthy doesn't seem to have one, though, and the numbers show that the surge is having a positive effect on Baghdad -- and will in Mosul when the Maliki government extends the security plan to that city. Hopefully, the media will report it in more depth as the situation continues to show improvement."

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