…but may be hard to find.
I refer to the latest Iraq story: Iraq surge goals being met: US general.
The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus has said it will be possible to draw down the 30,000 troops sent as part of the surge by next July, beginning with the withdrawal of a marine unit, next month.
Speaking to the House or Representatives” joint armed services and foreign relations committee, General Petraeus said, “I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to pre-surge levels … without jeopardising security gains we fought so hard to achieve.”…
“The military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met,” he said.
He said despite the brutal summer heat, progress was being made in the security arena, and the Coalition and iraqi forces have dealt a significant blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq.
General Petraeus said that the number of security incidents over the past two weeks has been the lowest since June 2006 and violence has declined in eight of the past 12 weeks. He said the number of incidents – as opposed to deaths – was the lowest since April 2006.
In Baghdad, the number of deaths due to “ethno-sectarian violence” – defined as incidents involving one ethnic group against another, and motivated by ethnic differences – has dropped by 80 per cent since December, he said.
General Petraeus conceded thought that the number of civilian deaths is still unacceptably high, even though he said that these deaths have also declined since December.
Earlier today I referred you to Good Morning Iraq on Media Watch, now very relevant as it deals with the statistical issues in a critical spirit. Monica Attard quoted ABC America on General Petraeus:
He always manages to paint a hopeful picture.
In 2004 as a 2 star division commander…in 2005 as a 3 star training Iraqi forces.
It’s great to see the determination of many of the partners.
And today after years of setbacks and violence the now 4 star General remains optimistic…Petraeus says there’s political progress in Iraq as well despite a series of reports that say there has been next to none.
— 4 September 2007
From Media Watch too come these:
The “decrease in violence” fable is even more insidious. Though both General Petraeus and a White House fact sheet have recently boasted of a 75 percent decline in sectarian attacks, this number turns out to be as cooked as those tallies of Saddam’s weapons sites once peddled by WHIG. As The Washington Post reported on Thursday, it excludes Shiite-on-Shiite and Sunni-on-Sunni violence. The Government Accountability Office, which rejected that fuzzy math, found overall violence unchanged using the methodology practiced by the C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
No doubt General Petraeus, like Dick Cheney before him, will say that his own data is “pretty well confirmed” by classified intelligence that can’t be divulged without endangering national security. Meanwhile, the White House will ruthlessly undermine any reality-based information that contradicts its propaganda, much as it dismissed the accurate W.M.D. findings of the United Nations weapon experts Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei before the war. General Petraeus intervened to soften last month’s harsh National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Last week the administration and its ideological surrogates were tireless in trashing the nonpartisan G.A.O. report card that found the Iraqi government flunking most of its benchmarks…
What’s surprising is not that this White House makes stuff up, but that even after all the journalistic embarrassments in the run-up to the war its fictions can still infiltrate the real news. After Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, two Brookings Institution scholars, wrote a New York Times Op-Ed article in July spreading glad tidings of falling civilian fatality rates, they were widely damned for trying to pass themselves off as tough war critics (both had supported the war and the surge) and for not mentioning that their fact-finding visit to Iraq was largely dictated by a Department of Defense itinerary…
When the line separating spin from reality is so effectively blurred, the White House’s propaganda mission has once more been accomplished. No wonder President Bush is cocky again. Stopping in Sydney for the economic summit after last weekend’s photo op in Iraq, he reportedly told Australia’s deputy prime minister that “we’re kicking ass.” This war has now gone on so long that perhaps he has forgotten the price our troops paid the last time he taunted our adversaries to bring it on, some four years and 3,500 American military fatalities ago.
And that isn’t from Kevin Rudd’s team either, but from a sharp-eyed American.