The American progress is measured by a decrease in violence, the White House has decided -- a daily holocaust has been cut back to a daily multiple catastrophe. And who's keeping the count? Why, the same good people who have been regularly feeding us a lie for the past five years about the number of Iraqi deaths, completely ignoring the epidemiological studies. (Real Americans don't do Arab body counts.) A recent analysis by the Washington Post left the administration's claim pretty much in tatters. The article opened with: "The U.S. military's claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends." The article then continued in the same critical vein.
To the extent that there may have been a reduction in violence, we must also keep in mind that, thanks to this lovely little war, there are several million Iraqis either dead or in exile abroad or in bursting American and Iraqi prisons; there must be as well a few million more wounded who are homebound or otherwise physically limited; so the number of potential victims and killers has been greatly reduced. Moreover, extensive ethnic cleansing has taken place in Iraq (another good indication of progress, n'est-ce pas? nicht wahr?) -- Sunnis and Shiites are now living more in their own special enclaves than before, none of those stinking mixed communities with their unholy mixed marriages, so violence of the sectarian type has also gone down. On top of all this, US soldiers have been venturing out a lot less (for fear of things like ... well, dying), so the violence against our noble lads is also down. Remember that insurgent attacks on American forces is how the Iraqi violence all began in the first place.
Oh, did I mention that 2007 has been the deadliest year for US troops since the war began? It's been the same worst year for American forces in Afghanistan.
One of the signs of the reduction in violence in Iraq, the administration would like us to believe, is that many Iraqi families are returning from Syria, where they had fled because of the violence. The New York Times, however, reported that "Under intense pressure to show results after months of political stalemate, the [Iraqi] government has continued to publicize figures that exaggerate the movement back to Iraq"; as well as exaggerating "Iraqis' confidence that the current lull in violence can be sustained." The count, it turns out, included all Iraqis crossing the border, for whatever reason. A United Nations survey found that 46 percent were leaving Syria because they could not afford to stay; 25 percent said they fell victim to a stricter Syrian visa policy; and only 14 percent said they were returning because they had heard about improved security.
How long can it be before vacation trips to "Exotic Iraq" are flashed across our TVs? "Baghdad's Beautiful Beaches Beckon". Just step over the bodies. Indeed, the State Department has recently advertised for a "business development/tourism" expert to work in Baghdad, "with a particular focus on tourism and related services."
We've been told often by American leaders and media that the US forces can't leave because of the violence, because there would be a bloodbath. Now there's an alleged significant decrease in the violence. Is that being used as an argument to get out -- a golden opportunity for the United States to leave, with head held high? Of course not.
I almost feel sorry for them. They're "can-do" Americans, accustomed to getting their way, accustomed to thinking of themselves as the best, and they're frustrated as hell, unable to figure out "why they hate us", why we can't win them over, why we can't at least wipe them out. Don't they want freedom and democracy? At one time or another the can-do boys have tried writing a comprehensive set of laws and regulations, even a constitution, for the country; setting up mini-bases in neighborhoods; building walls to block off areas; training and arming "former" Sunni insurgents to fight Shias and al Qaeda; enlisting Shias to help fight, against whomever; leaving weapons or bomb-making material in public view to see who picks it up, then pouncing on them; futuristic vehicles and machines and electronic devices to destroy roadside bombs; setting up their own Arabic-language media, censoring other media; classes for detainees on anger control, an oath of peace, and the sacredness of life and property; regularly revising the official reason the United States is in the country in the first place ... one new tactic after another, and when all else fails they call it a "success" and give it a nice inspiring action name, like "surge" ... and nothing helps. They're can-do Americans, using good ol' American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home ... and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you're selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you're totally ruining your customers' lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality. They're can-do Americans, accustomed to playing by the rules -- theirs; and they're frustrated as hell.