Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Progress in Anbar" - No! It Can't Be. Not The NY Times!

RAMADI, Iraq — Anbar Province, long the lawless heartland of the tenacious Sunni Arab resistance, is undergoing a surprising transformation. Violence is ebbing in many areas, shops and schools are reopening, police forces are growing and the insurgency appears to be in retreat.
OK for a neo-conservative rag.

Acceptable from Fox News.

Perfectly understandable as a paragraph from "mad-dog" Cheney.

But as the lede paragraph in the New York Times? No. It's either impossible or a disaster. It's got to be impossible.

First thought: I wonder if the reporter and editor are still working there? What's his name, Jason something? Any chance it was a prank? Have they floated a correction?

Second thought: Where's General Nancy Pelosi? This could be serious. The Times is reporting that there a new military plan in place. What new plan? I wonder if Petraeus covered that in their meeting last week. Oh, right, Pelosi didn't attend the meeting. Damn.

Third thought:
Senator Harry Reid (D-Ritz Carlton and former friend of David Broder, the former dean of the Washington press corp don't you know) had better get his rear in gear and work out an honorable surrender before this gets out of hand.

The contrast with earlier coverage from the tired old Gray Lady and reporting from other media is striking. After the obligatory litany of continuing problems, and there are many, the article reports:

Still, the progress has inspired an optimism in the American command that, among some officials, borders on giddiness. It comes after years of fruitless efforts to drive a wedge between moderate resistance fighters and those, like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who seem beyond compromise.

“There are some people who would say we’ve won the war out here,” said Col. John. A. Koenig, a planning officer for the Marines who oversees governing and economic development issues in Anbar. “I’m cautiously optimistic as we’re going forward.”

For most of the past few years, the Government Center in downtown Ramadi, the seat of the provincial government, was under near-continual siege by insurgents, who reduced it to little more than a bullet-ridden bunker of broken concrete, sandbags and trapped marines. Entering meant sprinting from an armored vehicle to the front door of the building to evade snipers’ bullets.

Now, however, the compound and nearby buildings are being renovated to create offices for the provincial administration, council and governor. Hotels are being built next door for the waves of visitors the government expects once it is back in business.

Acts of violence in the region are down about 84% over the past few months, as American and Iraqui forces take, then hold the land.

Anbar is one of the most difficult provinces in Iraq. If, and it is an If, we can succeed there, we can succeed.

The question really is whether the American people have the will and the Democratic leadership in Congress will allow the time.

Neither is certain.

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