Sunday, April 01, 2007

Iraq: The Blue Surge Suits

We hear early reports that the escalation strategy in Iraq is working, but from whom are we hearing these reports?

Among the most notable of those cheering the "surge" is Bush administration water boy Joe Lieberman, who told CNN last Thursday that he "thinks the president's changed policy in Iraq has successfully decreased the violence in Baghdad and increased the confidence of U.S. forces there."

What makes Joe think that? Second hand testimony passed along by a neocon buddy of his.

"Our soldiers told [Ret. Gen. Jack Keane] they feel more confident than ever as they go on patrol in Baghdad in the neighborhoods we've settled into with their Iraqi colleagues," Lieberman said to CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "The American soldier is more confident walking the streets of Baghdad today and that's a very important change."

Retired Army General Jack Keane was a military adviser to the Iraq Study Group (ISG) who labeled the group's recommendations as "impractical." “Based on where we are now we can’t get there,” he said, and added that the ISG's conclusions said more about "the absence of political will in Washington than the harsh realities in Iraq.”

Funny thing about Keane. Around the time he was working with the ISG, he was also working with Fred Kagan of the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute on the so-called "surge plan" that Mr. Bush is presently executing. In late December of 2006, Keane and Kagan wrote:
Bringing security to Baghdad--the essential precondition for political compromise, national reconciliation and economic development--is possible only with a surge of at least 30,000 combat troops lasting 18 months or so. Any other option is likely to fail.

It's little wonder that Keane would say the surge is "working," or that he would seek out anonymous soldiers to tell him what he wants to hear, or that Lieberman would use questionable testimony to shore up the Bush administration's strategy.

In a March 11 Washington Post article titled "The 'Surge' Is Succeeding," Fred Kagan's brother Robert wrote:
…though it is still early and horrible acts of violence continue, there is substantial evidence that the new counterinsurgency strategy, backed by the infusion of new forces, is having a significant effect.

On what did Kagan base this conclusion?
Iraqi bloggers Mohammed and Omar Fadhil, widely respected for their straight talk, say that "early signs are encouraging."

These are the same two Iraqi bloggers who Mr. Bush cited in his March 28 speech the Cattleman's Beef Association in which he touted the success of the "surge." Oddly enough, it turns out that the Fadhil brothers met with Mr. Bush in the Oval Office in 2004.

Also odd is the look and sound of the Fadhil brothers' blog site, Iraq the Model. One of the first things I noticed when I visited the site was a conspicuous ad associating itself with Pajamas Media, a $3.5 million web media organization launched in 2005 by right wing bloggers Roger Simon and Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs.

The Fadhil brothers' prose comes across like standard rhetoric from the Karl Rove playbook, but I found a few of their remarks particularly interesting. On March 30, Omar wrote:
Almost every Friday night we gather with some friends for drinks and barbeque and we all take turns hosting the night.

What kinds of drinks are they having? According to a March 29 post by Mohammed:
Now excuse me, it's Thursday and I have barbeque and cold beers waiting for me.

It seems like these supposedly non-alcohol imbibing Muslims are having a jolly old time, doesn't it? Thursday, Friday, whatever--yahoo! These guys make Baghdad sound like a neoconservative jamboree in Crawford, Texas. One has to wonder where they're getting the money to finance this movable Mesopotamian feast. Between the U.S. State and Defense Departments, there's plenty of propaganda money floating around.

Neo-connecting the Dots

The Kagan brothers are loyal sidemen of William Kristol, Weekly Standard editor and founder of the infamous Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the neoconservative think tank that cooked up our woebegone war in Iraq. Kristol, as you might expect, thinks the surge is going swimmingly too. On March 19th he wrote:
It may well be that Gen. David Petraeus is going to lead us to victory in Iraq. He is certainly off to a good start…

… Obviously, it's too early to say anything more definitive than that there are real signs of progress in Baghdad. The cocksure defeatism of war critics of two months ago, when the surge was announced, does seem to have been misplaced.

Kristol bases his rosy assessment on an analysis titled Iraq Report, a study produced by the Weekly Standard and authored by Kimberly Kagan. You probably won't be shocked to learn that Kimberly is Fred Kagan's wife.

The people who sold us this war, and then sold Mr. Bush on the escalation, are the same ones now telling us how well the "surge" is going. After so many years of being wrong, is it possible that they're right now? Perhaps. But if so, why is it they have to base their arguments on fuzzy testimony and self-serving analyses?

Fool me once…


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Interesting, as the information we, in Europe (I am writing from Sweden), get, is that violence is escalating continuously in Bagdad, and that these last weeks have been extremly violent with an increasing amount of deaths causalties.

    This also seems to be the case in Afghanistan, where, at least we are told so in our mass media, the Talibans have promised to pay 5-10.000 dollars for every westerner that is killed. (To my great sorrow, and anger, we also have Swedish soldiers in this country, ISAF- soldiers).

    I can not guarantee that our information is correct (who can do so in times of war), only tell that we get different information over here from what obviously is presented in most mass media in the USA, and particularly from information emanating from Amerikan governmental sources.

    Must also say, that I appreciate your blogging very much.

  2. It's typical that King George, in making a statement praising the virtuosity of these simple, straight-talking Iraqi bloggers, is in fact using them (as they use him) for unmentioned purposes. For Bush, he gets 'political capital' and 'good PR,' and the Iraqi bloggers, through their association with right-wing bloggers and through their lavish praise of the King, get money and luxuries while the Iraqi people are burning in their own private hell. What this shameful affair amounts to is the wheels of capitalism being secretly greased in the name of virtue.

    But what news outlet will pick THAT story up?

  3. OZinWisconsin9:16 PM

    Hi Jeff -

    Check out Kevin Tillman from last October;

  4. Thanks for the link, oz.


  5. You always write well, Jeff, but this was a good piece of journalism. Somebody has landed a sweet deal. They must think the kids are idiots. It fits into the pattern of totally *stupid* US propaganda-efforts I have seen. Its like watching your daytime television shows. If its one thing the Bushies suck at, its propaganda. Your Vice Pesident is universally known as Darth.

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