Unhinged in Baghdad
The big news today is the release of the Iraq Survey Group’s report. As befitting the general consensus in America now, the ISG has determined that Iraq is a disaster. There are very few commentators on any part of the political spectrum that reject the notion that Iraq is in a grave situation at this point. The difference mostly centers on what to do about it: neoconservatives say we need more troops to save the mission and others think we need to start withdrawing.
But, alas, there is another voice in this discussion. This voice claims that Iraq is not fairing poorly at all, that Iraq is not in civil war, mostly because there is “no constituency” for civil war. This voice avers that the “debates” among Iraqis are “characteristic of political discourse, not political breakdown.” Furthermore, this voice suggests that “extremist Shiite death squads don’t shoot people in the back of the head to further their control of the government.” Rather, it sees executions “seeking to instill fear and insecurity,” as if that fear and insecurity might not be part of a strategy to take over the government from political enemies.
Ladies and gentleman, this is the voice of an unhinged man in Baghdad. This is the new Baghdad Bob, as unrealistic about the situation in Iraq right now as the infamous Information Minister in April 2003. Sadly, however, this unhinged voice is not that of a far-right blogger. It’s the voice of General William Caldwell, the chief US military spokesman in Iraq.
Let me just say that if the US military top brass really sees the Iraq situation through these rose-tinted glasses, then it has lost all connection with reality. But we all know that Gen. Abizaid does not share this vision. Even Don Rumsfeld no longer shares this perspective. Hell, even Iraq the Model no longer believes that the desires of ordinary Iraqis for a peaceful future are winning out over the forces of terror, extremism and chaos. What we are left with is the fact that the top military spokesman in Iraq is spinning so hard he’s flying into outer space. Caldwell’s obscenely disingenuous column is the real story of the day, not the predictable Iraq Study Group. That the top US spokesman for the military can pen such an outrageous column shows just how corroded the PR operation in the Pentagon has become.
I find it refreshing that the new Secretary of Defense understands the grave position of the US in Iraq right now. Perhaps one of the first things he can do is find a more credible propaganda team than the one we have in Iraq.