In testimony before Congress on Thursday, the senior American military commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. of the Army, said the most recent analysis of intelligence from across the country supported the Bush administration's optimistic predictions that the referendum would pass.
Intelligence analysis supports the Bush administration's predictions? That joke's getting a little stale, isn't it, General?
It looks like a private polling company agrees with the intelligence, although according to the NYT…
Their calculations are complicated, because by law the constitution will fail if it is rejected by two-thirds of the voters in any three of Iraq's 18 provinces, even if a majority of voters nationwide approve it… In regions dominated by Sunni Arabs, opinion polls have shown sentiment running just about two to one against it.
How many US tax dollars did we pay for these complicated calculations that back up our intelligence but really don't?
It looks like I'm not the only one who's leery of the intelligence and the polls.
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, asked General Casey in a pointed exchange during the hearing on Thursday, "If there's a strong majority of Sunnis, which is very possible, that vote against that constitution, could that not possibly lead to a worsening political situation rather than a better one?"
"I think that's entirely possible," the general replied. "I mean, as we've looked at this, we've looked for the constitution to be a national compact, and the perception now is that it's not, particularly among the Sunnis."
Once it's established that the intelligence and polls might be cooked, the story flip-flops.
Officials say that if the constitution is defeated, insurgents will most likely believe that they have won a significant victory and be encouraged to fight on. Conversely, it is said, the insurgency will grow stronger if the voters approve the constitution, because that will anger Sunnis who opposed it and empower Sunni insurgents who can claim that their views were ignored.
So, either way, things could be bad?
"A vote for the constitution doesn't mean we're headed for peace and prosperity," Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of the Central Command, said in an interview this month. "Iraq is going to be a pretty difficult security environment for a while."
Dirdle, dirdle, dirdle. The constitution will probably pass because the intelligence says is will, but if it doesn't, that's all right, because things will be difficult either way, because the constitution we thought would be a national compact probably won't turn out to be the national compact we hoped it would be?
It gets worse. From Mister Rumsfeld himself:
"Insurgencies ultimately are defeated by the indigenous people in that country, not by outside forces, because outside forces can in fact contribute to the growth of an insurgency if they are seen as an occupation force."
But no word on when the indigenous people will be ready to defeat the insurgency in that country.
Mr. Rumsfeld and the panel of military officers resisted setting any date for reductions of American forces in Iraq, saying those decisions will depend on the growth of capable Iraqi security units and the level of security throughout the country.
And how is the growth of capable Iraqi units coming?
(General Casey said that) growing numbers of Iraqi police and Army forces are increasingly able to provide security in their country.
…only one Iraqi Army battalion (is) capable of fighting without help from United States armed forces.
Let's do some quick math. If it took two years to make one Iraqi Army battalion that's capable of fighting without help, how long will it take to make eight or ten of them?
In the meantime, it looks like we'll have to fight the insurgency with an outside occupation force that will add to the growth of the insurgency.
Watching Rummy and his stooges buck and wing their way around Iraq reminds me of something I think whenever I see a major leaguer bobble a routine fly ball: I could play that bad for half the money this guy's making.