Knight-Ridder’s Washington Bureau, now owned by McClatchy, was long-regarded as the most reliable source of information about the invasion of Iraq both during the run-up to the invasion and throughout the occupation. I mention this because I think it gives useful context to their report that soldiers in Iraq view troop surge as a lost cause:
Soldiers interviewed across east Baghdad, home to more than half the city’s 8 million people, said the violence is so out of control that while a surge of 21,500 more American troops may momentarily suppress it, the notion that U.S. forces can bring lasting security to Iraq is misguided. …
Almost every foot soldier interviewed during a week of patrols on the streets and alleys of east Baghdad said that Bush’s plan would halt the bloodshed only temporarily. The soldiers cited a variety of reasons, including incompetence or corruption among Iraqi troops, the complexities of Iraq’s sectarian violence and the lack of Iraqi public support, a cornerstone of counterinsurgency warfare.
Senator Pat Roberts gives the war in Iraq another 6 months, another six months, saying “I don’t think this war can be sustained for more than six months if in fact we don’t see some progress.” Of course, he’ll probably forget that statement, and blame the lapse on his “memory pills.”
In any event, Senator Roberts is no longer what I’d call a reliable source on the matter. Neither is President Bush, nor wash Secretary Rumsfeld. The simple fact is that they were wrong about Iraq. McClatchy (née Knight-Ridder) was right, as were various other people who were ignored. At this point, when Pat Roberts or George Bush says that Iraq will get better, that’s only plausible if someone like McClatchy agrees. In this case, McClatchy’s reporting is confirming the concerns of the sorts of people who were right before the war, concerns that the U.S. troops will simply be placed in the middle of a civil war without the ability to actually prevent that war, or diminish its effects.
Or, as Sergeant Chance Oswalt told McClatchy “They can keep sending more and more troops over here, but until the people here start working with us, it’s not going to change.” And that will mean engaging the political process in Iraq, and engaging neighboring nations, including Saudi Arabia.
Cassandra’s curse is to be right, but ignored. The first time that voices of wisdom were ignored, it may have been an honest mistake. The second time will be inexcusable.