Wednesday, August 16, 2006

If only he would meet with experts...

Then nothing would change, so it seems.

The Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — President Bush told Middle East experts at a private meeting this week that a three-way division of Iraq would only worsen sectarian violence and was not an option for solving the country's problems, the analysts said Tuesday.

Rejecting a policy alternative that has been gaining support in the U.S. and abroad, Bush told the experts that dividing Iraq would be "like pouring oil on fire," said Eric M. Davis of Rutgers University, one of the experts who met with the president Monday over Texas brisket and iced tea at the Pentagon.


Reuel Marc Gerecht, a Mideast analyst at American Enterprise Institute, said Bush asserted that the partition idea was "not even a starter," and that he also made it clear that "as long as he's president, we're in Iraq."

Carole O'Leary, an American University research professor and Iraq expert, said Bush "was adamant that, despite any conspiracy theories out there in the Islamic world or anywhere else, the United States is not in there to break up the place."

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow elaborated later Tuesday.

"It may provide kind of a nice construct — break it apart, and then it won't be a problem," Snow said. "Iraqis look upon themselves … as Iraqis, as the descendants of a Mesopotamian civilization that has been around for a very long time. And they see themselves as a nationality, rather than unmeltable ethnic groups."
He neglected to mention the death squads.

The New York Times:
Those who attended a Monday lunch at the Pentagon that included the president’s war cabinet and several outside experts said Mr. Bush carefully avoided expressing a clear personal view of the new prime minister of Iraq, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

But in what participants described as a telling line of questioning, Mr. Bush did ask each of the academic experts for their assessment of the prime minister’s effectiveness.

“I sensed a frustration with the lack of progress on the bigger picture of Iraq generally — that we continue to lose a lot of lives, it continues to sap our budget,” said one person who attended the meeting. “The president wants the people in Iraq to get more on board to bring success.”

Another person who attended the session said he interpreted Mr. Bush’s comments less as an expression of frustration than as uncertainty over the prospects of the new Iraqi government. “He said he really didn’t quite have a sense yet of how effective the government was,” said this person, who, like several who discussed the session, agreed to speak only anonymously because it was a private lunch.
Still trying to figure this one out, is he?

McClatchy Newspapers:
TIKRIT, Iraq - As security conditions continue to deteriorate in Iraq, many Iraqi politicians are challenging the optimistic forecasts of governments in Baghdad and Washington, with some worrying that the rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.

Their worst fear, one that some American soldiers share, is that top officials don't really understand what's happening. Those concerns seem to be supported by statistics that show Iraq's violence has increased steadily during the past three years.

"The American policy has failed both in terms of politics and security, but the big problem is that they will not confess or admit that," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of parliament. "They are telling the American public that the situation in Iraq will be improved, they want to encourage positive public opinion (in the U.S.), but the Iraqi citizens are seeing something different. They know the real situation."
Stars and Stripes:
The woman said they had just moved to Ramadi from Baghdad.

“The situation is pretty bad in Baghdad, that’s why we moved here,” she said.

As troops under the command of Col. Sean MacFarland’s 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division wage a costly campaign to neutralize insurgents, soldiers in the western Ta’meem neighborhood are hoping to win the support of locals through a brand of policing that combines combat patrols and civilian outreach.

Unlike soldiers based in combat outposts within the city’s core, where almost daily skirmishes make public outreach all but impossible, soldiers with the Baumholder, Germany-based 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment have found greater opportunity.

The census patrols — created by the U.S. Marines — are intended to document every resident of a given home and gauge their attitude toward coalition troops, public services and security.
The AP:
"We're in a recruiting war with the insurgency," said Brig. Gen. Robert Neller, the deputy Marine commander in western Iraq.

U.S. commanders have said privately that a military solution to the insurgency in Anbar is impossible, and what's needed is a political deal between the Sunni Arabs and the other religious and ethnic communities.

"This country needs a political solution _ not a military solution," one government worker told Marines who stopped by his home in Haditha. "Are we going to stay in this situation where you shoot them, they shoot you? We are the victims."


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