Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A feint for hope?

The President made an "unannounced" trip to Iraq on Labor Day, 2007. The story is covered in just about every daily in the land, and that coverage offers a glint of hope for America's disengagement in Iraq. The problem for the ordinary citizen is how to interpret the information coming out of Iraq and Washington.

NPR's Morning Edition Corey Flintoff reports there were no next-day editorial comments in Iraqi newspapers. What are we to make of the silence of Iraqi newspapermen?

Here's a quote from a statement by the President: "But General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker tell me if the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces." Is that a feint, disguised in an otherwise normal White House denunciation of political adversaries? To illustrate, here's a quote from the President's statement to some members of the military on the same day, "But I want to tell you this about the decision -- about my decision about troop levels. Those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground -- not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media."

So, the President visits Al-Anbar and slips in "fewer American forces" with the usual "nervous...politicians."

It is to be hoped that fewer American forces turns out to be no American forces, that the stability in Al-Anbar spreads to the entire country.

A cynic, however, reviewing the White House's propensity for "spin," might conclude this is the first indication that Mr. Bush--nerously?--is preparing to declare victory and withdraw combat forces.

Trust, but verify.

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