'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, April 25, 2005

Gee, What Happened to All That Steady if Uneven Progress? 

Remember that far-off era shrouded in the mists of time characterized by the paper of record offering us such refreshing morsels as:

Interviews with more than a dozen senior American and Iraqi officers, top Pentagon officials and lawmakers who have visited Iraq yield an assessment that the combination of routing insurgents from their sanctuary in Falluja last November and the Iraqi elections on Jan. 30 has given the military operation sustained momentum, and put the Bush administration's goal of turning Iraq over to a permanent, elected Iraqi government within striking distance. [...]

This view of steady if uneven progress is shared by virtually all senior American commanders and Pentagon officials interviewed, who base their judgments on some 50 to 70 specific measurements from casualty figures to assassination attempts against Iraqi government officials as well as subjective analyses by American commanders and diplomats. They recall how plans a year ago to reduce American forces were dashed by resurgent rebel attacks in much of the Sunni-dominated areas north and west of Baghdad, and in Shiite hot spots like Najaf. And they express concern that a huge, last-ditch suicide attack against a prominent target, like the new Iraqi National Assembly, could deal the operation a severe blow.

Well, ... ummm ... you know, what a difference two weeks makes:

Violence is escalating sharply in Iraq after a period of relative calm that followed the January elections. Bombings, ambushes and kidnappings targeting Iraqis and foreigners, both troops and civilians, have surged this month while the new Iraqi government is caught up in power struggles over cabinet positions.

Many attacks have gone unchallenged by Iraqi forces in large areas of the country dominated by insurgents, according to the U.S. military, Iraqi officials and civilians and visits by Washington Post correspondents. Hundreds of Iraqis and foreigners have either been killed or wounded in the last week.

"Definitely, violence is getting worse," said a U.S. official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "My strong sense is that a lot of the political momentum that was generated out of the successful election, which was sort of like a punch in the gut to the insurgents, has worn off." The political stalemate "has given the insurgents new hope," the official added, repeating a message Americans say they are increasingly giving Iraqi leaders.

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