Thursday, September 13, 2007

Aljazeera on the state of Iraq for a different perspective

AFP: Top Sunni sheikh fighting Qaeda in Iraq assassinated

AFP: Top Sunni sheikh fighting Qaeda in Iraq assassinated: "BAGHDAD (AFP) — Top Sunni sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Reesha, who spearheaded a fight against Al-Qaeda, was killed by a bomb on Thursday just 10 days after US President George W. Bush shook his hand when he visited Iraq."


Top Sunni sheikh fighting Qaeda in Iraq assassinated
4 hours ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Top Sunni sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Reesha, who spearheaded a fight against Al-Qaeda, was killed by a bomb on Thursday just 10 days after US President George W. Bush shook his hand when he visited Iraq.

Abu Reesha was killed near his home in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and the region touted by the US military as a success in its fight against Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the local affiliate of Osama bin Laden's jihadist group.

The attack came hours before Bush was due to make a televised address detailing Washington's future strategy in war-torn Iraq and in which he was expected to reiterate the success of Anbar.

The US military confirmed Abu Reesha's killing.

"I can confirm that he was killed in front of his house from an explosion from a roadside bomb," military spokesman Major Winfield S. Danielson told AFP.

Anbar security chief Tareq al-Dulaimi said Abu Reesha "was returning home when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb planted by insurgents. His car was hit directly."

Dulaimi said Abu Reesha while on his way home ordered his convoy to stop so he could help a handicapped man sitting by the roadside.

"Soon after he got back in his car the bomb exploded," the police chief said.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called the murder an "outrage."

"America has to realise the national security implications of not staying and making sure that Iraq is secure and that Al-Qaeda does not establish a safe haven in Iraq," she said.

The sheikh "was one of the first who came to the Americans saying he wanted to work with the Marines in order to expel Al-Qaeda from Anbar," added Perino, who signalled confidence that the effort would continue.
Abu Reesha was initially protected by US forces who put an M-1 tank in front of his house and trained his bodyguards and security forces. But Morrell said responsibility for his security later passed to the sheikh's own people.


Bush had said during his lightning stopover on September 3 that a reduction in US combat troops in Iraq was possible because of progress in Anbar, achieved largely due to the fight declared by local sheikhs against Al-Qaeda.

He shook hands with Abu Reesha and praised the Anbar Awakening Conference, a coalition of some 25 tribes which came together in September last year and pledged to fight Al-Qaeda by forming their own paramilitary units and supplying recruits to the police.

Sheikh Reesha, in his forties, was the leading figure in the Anbar Awakening Conference.

"I wish we could do in all the provinces of Iraq what we did in Anbar, which is that the people and the government come together," he said a week ago at a meeting of Iraqi government and US officials in Ramadi, urging other provinces to follow Anbar's lead in cooperating with the central government.

The meeting, known as the Anbar Forum, was aimed at giving an economic boost to the western province where Sunni Arab former insurgents have joined with US forces to fight Al-Qaeda.

Abu Reesha is the ninth member of his family to be killed by insurgents since the US-led invasion in March 2003. His father, Sheikh Sattar Bzia, also died in a car bomb attack in autumn last year....

In Iraq, Little Pressure for Reforms

The Associated Press: In Iraq, Little Pressure for Reforms: "BAGHDAD (AP) — The debate in Washington over troop numbers is intense. But in Baghdad, there's been little sense of alarm or urgency among the Iraqi politicians who would have the most to lose if the United States decides to begin a major pull back."

Both Sunni and Shiite leaders have been largely convinced for weeks that President Bush would press to keep forces in Iraq until he turns the White House over to a successor.

That has set up one of the grand ironies of the troop build-up that began early this year.

Washington threw more personnel and firepower into Iraq to give the Iraqi leadership more room to settle disputes and adopt U.S.-backed reforms.

But the signals this week of just modest troop withdrawals ahead — perhaps back to pre-surge levels of about 130,000 — mean the Shiite-led government feels little pressure to accelerate work toward true political reconciliation.

Instead, they are focusing their energy on shoring up their positions: outflanking political challengers, leaning on more-radical Shiite factions to behave and flirting with Sunni sheiks to build personal alliances....

[bth: our presence has bought the Iraqi government and various factions the time, but not the will to reach accommodations. The will is missing and our presence minimizes that will because they do not have to deal with the consequences.]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

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Officials: Bush to announce troop cut

Officials: Bush to announce troop cut - Boston.com: "WASHINGTON --President Bush will tell the nation Thursday evening that he plans to reduce the American troop presence in Iraq by as many as 30,000 by next summer but will condition those and further cuts on continued progress, The Associated Press has learned."...

[bth: choreography at its best.]

FOXNews.com - U.S. Officials Begin Crafting Iran Bombing Plan - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum

FOXNews.com - U.S. Officials Begin Crafting Iran Bombing Plan - Politics Republican Party Democratic Party Political Spectrum: "WASHINGTON — A recent decision by German officials to withhold support for any new sanctions against Iran has pushed a broad spectrum of officials in Washington to develop potential scenarios for a military attack on the Islamic regime, FOX News confirmed Tuesday."

Germany — a pivotal player among three European nations to rein in Iran's nuclear program over the last two-and-a-half years through a mixture of diplomacy and sanctions supported by the United States — notified its allies last week that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel refuses to support the imposition of any further sanctions against Iran that could be imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

The announcement was made at a meeting in Berlin that brought German officials together with Iran desk officers from the five member states of the Security Council. It stunned the room, according to one of several Bush administration and foreign government sources who spoke to FOX News, and left most Bush administration principals concluding that sanctions are dead.

The Germans voiced concern about the damaging effects any further sanctions on Iran would have on the German economy — and also, according to diplomats from other countries, gave the distinct impression that they would privately welcome, while publicly protesting, an American bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Germany's withdrawal from the allied diplomatic offensive is the latest consensus across relevant U.S. agencies and offices, including the State Department, the National Security Council and the offices of the president and vice president. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, the most ardent proponent of a diplomatic resolution to the problem of Iran's nuclear ambitions, has had his chance on the Iranian account and come up empty.

Political and military officers, as well as weapons of mass destruction specialists at the State Department, are now advising Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the diplomatic approach favored by Burns has failed and the administration must actively prepare for military intervention of some kind. Among those advising Rice along these lines are John Rood, the assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation; and a number of Mideast experts, including Ambassador James Jeffrey, deputy White House national security adviser under Stephen Hadley and formerly the principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.

Consequently, according to a well-placed Bush administration source, "everyone in town" is now participating in a broad discussion about the costs and benefits of military action against Iran, with the likely timeframe for any such course of action being over the next eight to 10 months, after the presidential primaries have probably been decided, but well before the November 2008 elections.

The discussions are now focused on two basic options: less invasive scenarios under which the U.S. might blockade Iranian imports of gasoline or exports of oil, actions generally thought to exact too high a cost on the Iranian people but not enough on the regime in Tehran; and full-scale aerial bombardment.

On the latter course, active consideration is being given as to how long it would take to degrade Iranian air defenses before American air superiority could be established and U.S. fighter jets could then begin a systematic attack on Iran's known nuclear targets.

Most relevant parties have concluded such a comprehensive attack plan would require at least a week of sustained bombing runs, and would at best set the Iranian nuclear program back a number of years — but not destroy it forever. Other considerations include the likelihood of Iranian reprisals against Tel Aviv and other Israeli population centers; and the effects on American troops in Iraq. There, officials have concluded that the Iranians are unlikely to do much more damage than they already have been able to inflict through their supply of explosives and training of insurgents in Iraq.

The Bush administration "has just about had it with Iran," said one foreign diplomat. "They tried the diplomatic process. China is now obstructing them at the U.N. Security Council and the Russians are tucking themselves behind them.

"The Germans are wobbling …There are a number of people in the administration who do not want their legacy to be leaving behind an Iran that is nuclear armed, so they are looking at what are the alternatives? They are looking at other options," the diplomat said.

Vice President Cheney and his aides are said to be enjoying a bit of "schadenfreude" at the expense of Burns. A source described Cheney's office as effectively gloating to Burns and Rice, "We told you so. (The Iranians) are not containable diplomatically."

The next shoe to drop will be when Rice and President Bush make a final decision about whether to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and/or its lethal subset, the Quds Force, as a terrorist entity or entities. FOX News reported in June that such a move is under consideration.

Sources say news leaks about the prospective designation greatly worried European governments and private sector firms, which could theoretically face prosecution in American courts if such measures became law and these entities continued to do business with IRGC and its multiple financial subsidiaries.

If the Bush administration moves forward with such a designation, sources said, it would be an indication that Rice agrees that Burns' approach has failed. Designation of such a large Iranian military institution as a terrorist entity would also be seen, sources said, as laying the groundwork for a public justification of American military action.

[bth: note this story on Fox has no named sources. The story on CNN which follows on this blog has also no named US officials. The timing of this story suggesting the US should attack Iran coincides with the story below which implies that Israel is good at attacking Iranian targets in Syria. A few well placed anonymous sources at AEI could very well be planting these stories which are then published as fact. Also note this Fox story seems to forget that Iran has numerous terrorism capabilities including Hezbollah against US targets - that scenario isn't mentioned as usual. Fact is, if Iran wanted to make our lives miserable in Iraq they could use Shea surrogates to attack our supply lines and could give Iraqis thousands - not hundreds - of EFPs to attack our vehicles. Are these anonymous and unconfirmable stories being planted in the media.]

'IAF and ground troops targeted Iranian weapons in Syria' | Jerusalem Post

'IAF and ground troops targeted Iranian weapons in Syria' Jerusalem Post: "The Israel Air Force jets that allegedly infiltrated Syrian airspace early last Thursday apparently bombed an Iranian arms shipment that was being transferred to Hizbullah, CNN reported Tuesday. "

A ground operation may also have been part of the foray, according to the network. Neither Jerusalem nor Damascus have confirmed the report. But Damascus has denied the presence of any Israeli ground forces on its territory.

CNN said the operation involved ground forces and that the aerial strike left "a great hole in the desert."

Although it did not name a specific source, the network cited "US government officials." The jets have been identified by the Turkish authorities as IAF F15Is, Israel's long-range bomber, after fuel tanks were found in Turkish territory.

The CNN report said the IAF's targets were likely weaponry delivered to Syria that was possibly intended for use by Hizbullah.

CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, delivered the report and quoted sources saying that Israel was "very happy" with the results of the operation...

[bth: we should be careful about giving too much credit to unnammed but quoted US sources just before a big religious holiday. The story may or may not be true. Perhaps its is. The map that is attached to the article certainly puts the weapons at an odd location near the Iraqi border.]

Disturbed anti-war protester can't find soldier, kills civilian with axe instead

Disturbed anti-war protester can't find soldier, kills civilian with axe instead: "AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A U.S. citizen has confessed to using an axe to kill a Dutch student after failing to find a soldier to attack, his lawyer said Tuesday. "

The suspect, Carlos Hartmann, 41, of Tecumseh, Mich., has confessed to the Sept. 8 killing on a train platform in the southern city of Roosendaal, defence lawyer Peter Gremmen said.

Gremmen said Hartmann wanted to punish the Netherlands for its support of the war in Iraq. ...

Monday, September 10, 2007

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Observations on War from Washington and London

I was in Washington on the Hill last week. Now I am in London. There is great contrast.

In Washington, the belief among those I met is that party politics will somehow resolve matters of war and peace. I find that no one outside of Washington feels that way in the States. People in London could care less. I seemed to be the only one in London interested in the Petraeus testimony today.

Last Thursday,I went to Arlington Cemetery, Section 60 where John is buried. There are 7 full rows of new graves below him and there is one with a temporary marker starting an 8th. A bulldozer had run it over. There were flowers on many of the graves, there was a solitary wilting rose on Johns plus a few rocks, from who I do not know. The Shay's had put flesh flowers on their son's grave. They were wonderful people when we met them. Lt. Hall's grave is directly 7 rows down hill from John's. They were in the same unit. John was killed in Oct. 03 in Taza, Iraq, Hall last month in Afghanistan. Time passes.

I find it grounding, in a word, to go to Section 60 when I have to go to Washington. It keeps my perspective - a purpose.

On the plane to London, I sat next to a man who was visiting his daughter and first grandbabby in Boston. He lives in London. He says that Americans were too sensitive about 9-11. He says that the British are not only leaving Basra, but Afghanistan as well. He says the British public have had enough, that they think their leaders were led astray by President Bush and now that Blair is gone, so are they. The alliance is broken. The goodwill between people remains, but the military alliance has ended. They don't need it. As I walked through London in recent days and toured the Imperial War Museum, I come to conclude that he is telling the truth. He knew nothing about my past and had great love for both countries. But the alliance is dead if he is correct. They see no value in it anymore. The Brits didn't mind if doughboys came to their country in the 20th Century, but things have changed. They just don't need us and the price of friendship with us has gone up.

Back in Washington I got a sense of disengagement from reality with the rest of the free world. Debates in committees have almost no relevance. There are not enough votes to override a veto. There will be a protest, a veto and a great debate, but in the end, I feel that the American public has concluded, nothing will come of it. The war will go on without regard to our national interest - our public interest. It is like a forest fire and we are simply waiting for it to burn itself out.

I walked out of Section 60 toward the entrance past a few ceremonies - bugles, rifle salutes, dignity. I am glad we buried John there. Then I walked to the entrance, past the sweating tourists who came to see the graves, but not the fallen. Arlington Cemetery has such a different meaning to our family and to the families near us in Section 60. For most of the visitors, its any other stop on the tourism trail.

In London, I see many construction cranes. Business is booming. Immigration is illegal and rampant. There are no soldiers on the street that I see in uniform - unlike Washington or most American airports. There seems to be no support for the war or the soldiers here in London save for fresh wreathes I saw today on the sea merchants memorial. War is dead in London.

So I asked my friend on the plane if Iraq is America's war, what about Afghanistan? Will the Brits leave too? He said yes, it wasn't their war either. I asked wasn't it Afghanistan's heroin being used on London's streets? He said yes, but there was no connection. I asked if America was attacked by the Taliban from Afghanistan, didn't NATO have an obligation to assist? He felt no obligation, at least as far as British public was concerned.

So the dollar is weakening. A workman at a convention center here in London told me he flew to the US to buy bluejeans and tools at Home Depot. He says they are half the price there with the dollar and all. Poles and hundreds of thousands of other illegal aliens are taking jobs from plumbers and electricians. Construction is booming. The town is oblivious to the war I heard rumors of in Washington. In the more than 10 years its been since I had time to tour London, the one striking thing is the total change in racial complexion of the country. My seat mate on the plane says there are some sections were 90% are Muslim. He expected me to be upset. I'm not sure why. But then I wonder, who will fight for Britain? I finished my tour of the Imperial War Museum this afternoon mulling that over. Is the Britain America loves and remembers in sepia or black and white gone? Who will fight for England?

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2007: Petraeus and Crocker

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2007: Petraeus and Crocker - Interesting: "Today's joint testimony before the house of representatives was more interesting than I had expected. There were a number of things to be heard if one listened closely."

Petraeus:

- General Casey requested the increase in forces that people have called "the surge" and for which Petraeus is generally thought to be responsible. Bush announced the increase in forces in January, 2007. Petraeus assumed command in February, 2007

- Petraeus did not try to claim that the tribal revolt in Anbar, now spreading in the country wherever Sunni Arabs live in numbers, was the result of his policy. His COIN adviser David Killcullen recently wrote that the tribal revolt was not anticipated by the US command in Baghdad, was not caused by it and was a "surprise." What Petraeus did claim, fairly I think, is that he and his team have perceived the usefulness of this phenomenon and are helping to spread it wherever they can while at the same time trying to integrate these forces into government structures. Petraeus also maintained that the US is not arming the tribes because there is no need to arm the tribes. What is happening is that US forces are now welcoming those who wish to change sides in defense of their "turf" and way of life.

- If Casey requested the additional troops and the tribal revolt was caused by factors beyond his control, then what is left as Petraeus creative contribution is his campaign to protect the population of the Baghdad area by garrisoning the city with a myriad of little forts. That, in itself, may be enough to justify his reputation. To be fair, he seems to be an excellnt strategic thinker, and the man can really speak English. (unusual)

- Rep. Duncan Hunter suggested that the former Iraqi Army could not have been used for anything under a new government. Petraeus did not accept that and reiterated the idea that a shortage of well trained and experienced officers at field grade level remains one of the new army's biggest problem, and that the Maliki government is trying to induce the return to the colors of suitable "old Army." officers.

-Petraeus insisted that he and Admiral Fallon, his immediate commander, have no disagreements concerning policy in Iraq.

-Petraeus insisted that his testimony had not been "vetted" by the Bush Administration.

-Petraeus said that Iranian "Quds" force cadres and Hizbullah trainers "borrowed" by Iran have left Iraq.

-Most importantly, Petraeus said that he has recommended, through Fallon to Gates, that all of the "surge" troops be withdrawn gradually between now and July, 2008 with a further review in March, 2008 of how to continue the withdrawal after July. Some will say that this is deceptive because these troop will have to be withdrawn anyway. I think not. He could easily have conditioned the withdrawal in many ways, but there was little of that.

Crocker:

- He showed little taste for negotiating with the Iranians. Crocker has always liked to talk tough about negotiating with anyone. He seems to fear the "diplomatie au petit fours" image. Perhaps that is why Petraeus mentioned the Quds Force withdrawal.

All in all, an encouraging performance in a limited sort of way. Now, if we knew what the commander guy and ole Dick intend to do about Iran, we would really know something. pl

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/10/washington/10cnd-policy.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin

[bth: I have a great deal of respect for Col. Lang's opinion on this matter. Very interesting observations.]

Swedish Meatballs Confidential: U.S./British Rift Growing on Afghanistan

Swedish Meatballs Confidential: U.S./British Rift Growing on Afghanistan: "On a day when the bedwetters are eagerly awaiting a new propaganda message from Osama Bin Laden, we are reminded once again why their beloved war of choice in Iraq was a bad idea."




Britain is risking a new foreign policy rift with the US after bluntly telling the Bush Administration that it is "winning the battles but losing the war" in Afghanistan.

Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, fear that the US remains "fixated" by Iraq and is failing to address what they regard as the real front line in the war on terrorism.

Disagreement has surfaced already over the US military's desire to spray opium poppy fields from the air with herbicide, as well as to continue its bombing strikes on Afghan villages, which Britain complains undermines its strategy of "winning hearts and minds."

Other areas of contention include what Britain regards as Washington's indulgent attitude towards Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, who is accused of tolerating, even conniving with, widespread corruption inside his government.

One source said: "The Americans see a bit of military success in Afghanistan and think it's all fine. They are blinkered by Iraq and this is becoming symptomatic of a lack of serious engagement on policy across the piste."

Mr Miliband has instigated a strategy overhaul on Afghanistan which, although not a formal "review", is causing alarm within a US Administration still smarting over Britain’s withdrawal of troops from Basra in southern Iraq this week. ...

Mr Miliband has pushed Afghanistan up the policy agenda, choosing Kabul as the destination for his first trip abroad as Foreign Secretary in July. He wants to "step up the game" by building the strength of the Kabul Government and security forces, luring a broader range of Afghans into the administration, as well as tackling longstanding corruption surrounding the narcotics trade.

Some of the issues were aired this week by a team of Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence officials in Washington to discuss next year’s Nato summit, which is likely to be dominated by the mission in Afghanistan.

[bth: The Americans cannot admit to difficulties in Afghanistan. It is that simple. The reality on the ground, the resurgence of opium and the Taliban, the British sniping about hearts and minds in Afghanistan goes over worse now than ever before. The Brits have no better plan, but it is popular to their audience to bad mouth the Americans. It plays well at home. The Brits are pulling out of Iraq. The grand alliance is ending if not over. It will get worse.]

Matthew Dowd: War in Iraq: Wisdom of Crowds - Politics on The Huffington Post

Matthew Dowd: War in Iraq: Wisdom of Crowds - Politics on The Huffington Post: "As we approach the September reports on Iraq, the public debate over our military presence there has once again intensified. Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are ratcheting up the rhetoric about the best course of action, with the president using a pit stop in Iraq as a backdrop for his latest remarks. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats on the Hill are engaged in heated discussions -- both within and between their caucuses. Adding to the heat, several third party groups have begun advertising efforts to try and push elected officials one way or the other.

As the Beltway ramps up the debate, I believe it is a good and appropriate time to reflect on the opinions of the people those in our nation's capital serve -- the American public -- and specifically what they believe is the right direction in Iraq. I write this because I am a big believer in the "wisdom of crowds," which is to say that I put just more trust in the collective opinion of 300 million decent, honest and caring Americans than in the elites living in Washington, DC.

This is not to say politics and polls should determine substantive public policy especially regarding a war, but politics and polls should also not be used to thwart the will of the citizens of this country.

Having been a rather keen observer of the American public for more than 20 years and having helped elect and re-elect folks from the State House to the White House I wanted to share with you an analysis of where the public currently stands on the war in Iraq. I share these thoughts as neither a Republican nor a Democrat. While I did serve as Chief Strategist for President Bush in the 2004 campaign, I now consider myself an independent and feel it is a good time to offer what I hope you will find is a measured, reflective and objective analysis of where Democrats and Independents and a large portion of Republican voters stand on the Iraq war today.

1. In the public's mind, the Iraq War was a mistake, and continuing the status quo is simply continuing on with a mistake. As a result, most Americans now view the situation in Iraq as a "rearview" mirror issue -- meaning that the public believes it is time to focus on the process of ending our involvement and getting out quickly. They see American troops as targets in a place we aren't wanted, and they desire a plan which achieves responsible withdrawal in the quickest and safest way.

2. The public does not see withdrawal from Iraq as a signal America doesn't support the troops. In fact, the public sees removing the troops from harm's way and having them in a place where the mission is supported, welcomed and understood as the most proper way to support our troops.

3. The public is waiting for leaders from both political parties to stand up to the president and say enough is enough. They would like this situation resolved -- and soon -- and there is no other solution acceptable to them other than bringing the troops home. The public will support leaders who would use funding decisions as a way to encourage and push the president to resolve this situation quickly.

4. The war in Iraq is now seen exclusively as a foreign policy concern, and the American public no longer supports the initiative as part of national security. This is in stark contrast to the war's beginning -- at inception, the public perceived it as directly related to fighting terrorism, and thus it was seen as a domestic policy issue connected to homeland security. Not surprisingly, the public gave it broad support. Today, this is no longer the case -- the dynamic has changed and most of the public sees no "positive" relationship between the fight against terrorism and the war in Iraq.

I hope this analysis helps bolster the leaders who are ready to stand up for the troops and for the vast majority of Americans in this country. Not only is truth on those leaders' side, but politics is as well. It is my opinion that the best leaders are those who trust the will of the public, even if that means changing direction or admitting a mistake. This is true leadership and the kind of leadership our nation has always desired.


[bth: This guy has got it about right. Leaders in Washington are not dictators, nor are they wise and all knowing - far from it. My observation is that by the time you get through with the party politics, bureaucratic cowardice and military bull shit, you pretty much have a stupid entity that reacts to change only when required to and never before. The founding fathers of this country allowed the House to declare war, not the president, it allowed funding for defense only in 2 year increments and they did so to prevent the president from going to war without the full support of a majority of the American people. We are far, far from that sound democratic concept. We will not be happy as a nation until we are back on track. Bush will not lead us there. He is a coward. He will, in his own petulant way, force the next president to clean up the mess. Congress, now Democratic, does not have enough votes to override a veto and doesn't have the nerve to cut funding regardless of the merits of such a move. So as I see things we will be on a course to nowhere for the rest of 2008.]

War and Piece: Fantasy Island

War and Piece:: "Fantasy Island. A knowledgeable Iraq observer offers this analysis to post, upon the occasion of the Petraeus and Crocker testimony today, which asks this question: If U.S. forces are defeating everybody, why are deaths still so high?"

Among proponents of the surge, there is a lot of "fantasy Island" stuff coming out regarding the Sunni “awakening” and its relationship to the surge. Recognizing the precise contours of the fantasy requires us to take a closer look at the causal dynamics of the awakening, including the motivation of Sunni actors, the timing of their behavioral changes, and the importance of the surge....

[bth: this is a very good analysis and worth reading. Perhaps there is a chance of negotiating a suitable situation while negotiating a timed withdrawal.]

Daily Kos: Iraqis Say Surge Has Failed

Daily Kos: Iraqis Say Surge Has Failed: "In an extraordinary poll (.pdf) jointly run by ABC News, the BBC and the Japanese broadcaster NHK, Iraqis look at the surge results as a failure, a conclusion reached by both English-speaking news organizations. From ABC News' Gary Langer

More Iraqis say security in their local area has gotten worse in the last six months than say it's gotten better, 31 percent to 24 percent, with the rest reporting no change. Far more, six in 10, say security in the country overall has worsened since the surge began, while just one in 10 sees improvement.

More directly assessing the surge itself -- a measure that necessarily includes views of the United States, which are highly negative -- 65 to 70 percent of Iraqis say it's worsened rather than improved security, political stability and the pace of redevelopment alike.

There are some improvements, but they're sparse and inconsistent. Thirty-eight percent in Anbar province, a focal point of the surge, now rate local security positively; none did so six months ago. In Baghdad fewer now describe themselves as feeling completely unsafe in their own neighborhoods -- 58 percent, down from 84 percent. Yet other assessments of security in these locales have not improved, nor has the view nationally.

Overall, 41 percent report security as their greatest personal problem, down seven points from 48 percent in March. But there's been essentially no change in the number who call it the nation's top problem (56 percent, with an additional 28 percent citing political or military issues). And there are other problems aplenty to sour the public's outlook -- lack of jobs, poor power and fuel supply, poor medical services and many more.

More highlights from the detailed polling, and a hat tip to Ben P for these observations:

The number of Iraqis endorsing attacks on US troops has INCREASED since March (ie since the surge has taken effect): 57% as compared to 50% now endorse such attacks (93% of Sunnis, 50% of Shiites, 5% of Kurds). [Note those Sunni numbers!]
The number of Iraqis saying security has WORSENED since the current US troop buildup (this is an answer to a specific question about the "Surge") is 70%. Only 12% think it has improved things in the country.
The number of Iraqis in favor of an IMMEDIATE withdrawal of US troops is now 47%, up from 34% in March
the number of respondents expressing "a great deal of confidence" in Coalition forces is 4%. The number expressing "no confidence at all" in coalition forces is 58% (up from 52% in March). Overall 85% of Iraqis express little or no confidence in coalition forces (up from 82% this March)
53% of Iraqis strongly oppose the presence of coalition forces (the highest number ever, up from March of this year). Only 5% strongly approve their presence. In total 79% disapprove of their presence and 21% approve their presence. This is unchanged from earlier this year.
On "Al Qaeda," 0% of respondents support attacks by AQ on Iraqis, 1% support AQ attempts to "take over communities," but 48% support AQ attacks on Americans.
The Maliki government has an approval rating now of 33% (down from 41% in March)
This is hardly the winning of hearts and minds.

The poll suggests that the overall mood in Iraq is as negative as it has been since the US-led invasion in 2003, says BBC world affairs correspondent Nick Childs.

More BBC graphs can be found here and here (h/t Ott). Iraqis by a wide margin do not feel safer in areas where surge forces were sent. And from the poll .pdf:

Apart from a few scattered gains, a new national survey by ABC News, the BBC and the Japanese broadcaster NHK finds deepening dissatisfaction with conditions in Iraq, lower
ratings for the national government and growing rejection of the U.S. role there. More Iraqis say security in their local area has gotten worse in the last six months than say it’s gotten better, 31 percent to 24 percent, with the rest reporting no change. Far more, six in 10, say security in the country overall has worsened since the surge began, while just one in 10 sees improvement.

On what justification is the claim of success by the Bush administration based? Not only has there been no political reconciliation in a situation that has no military solution, the Iraqi people do not feel safer because of the surge.

Indeed, apart from Kurds, support for immediate withdrawal is lowest, and has risen the least, in Baghdad, whose mixed Shiite-Sunni status puts it at particular risk. Desire for the United States to "leave now" is highest in Anbar, still deeply anti-American despite any accommodation its leaders have made with the U.S. military.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and the claims by the Bush administration of success are not backed up by independent reports. What does that tell you? It tells us that the American public is right to not trust the WH to tell the truth about Iraq.

[bth: the Iraqis want us out more than ever. The American public wants us out. There is fantasy discussion occurring in Washington. There is a growing separation between the American public and its politicians. Sadly,there also seems to be a resignation to the fact that Bush will continue in Iraq until his term is over. There simply aren't enough votes in Congress to reverse matters.]