posted on February 05, 2007 11:16
It’s an old PR trick: Put out bad news on Friday. Hope it gets lost over the weekend.
That’s what the Bush Administration did last Friday with the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq.
I can’t fault them. I used the same trick when I worked for Governor Hunt. But we don’t have to fall for it.
The Chicago Tribune described the estimate as
…painting a dire picture of violence in Iraq that the term "civil war" cannot "adequately capture."
According to the Tribune, the NIE concludes:
- Unless efforts to reverse conditions in Iraq show "measurable progress" in coming months, the situation will continue to "deteriorate."
- Even "if violence is diminished," Iraqi leaders will be "hard-pressed" to achieve sustained political reconciliation over the next 12 to 18 months. But "stronger Iraqi leadership" could help the situation.
- U.S. forces remain an "essential stabilizing element" in Iraq. Yet, despite "real improvements," Iraq Security Forces will be hard-pressed to operate independently.
- If the U.S. withdrew, Iraqi forces could not withstand the ensuing violence, which would probably lead to "massive civilian casualties and forced population displacement."
- While Iraq's neighbors are interfering, "outside actors" are not a "major driver of violence" inside Iraq.
- Nevertheless, Iranian "lethal support" clearly "intensifies the conflict." And al-Qaeda in Iraq continues to act as a very effective "accelerator" of sectarian violence, which also has become "self-sustaining."
Democrats seized on the report to support their criticism of the Bush-Cheney “surge.”
But that poses a dilemma. At a time when some Democrats say we should intervene in Darfur, how do we rationalize an Iraq pullout? After all, the same report says that would lead to – again – "massive civilian casualties and forced population displacement."
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