Russell's Blog

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Tales of the surge

Posted by Russell on November 23, 2007 at 6:19 p.m.
Tuesday, the New York Times ran the latest in the series of bizarre articles claiming that the troop surge in Iraq is working. The premise of the article rests on perhaps the weakest justification for optimism I have ever read, anywhere.
The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.
Mein Gott! Days pass without a carbombing! Let us rejoice! The article parrots this sickly good news, which is the best news the chefs at the Pentagon can cook up from the year's putrid harvest. Need I remind you that the New York Times is once again reporting Bush administration numbers as if they were fact. That hasn't worked out so well for the Times in the recent past, but here they are, doing it again.

Much of the fall in violence can probably be explained by successful ethnic cleansing throughout Baghdad.

Why are they buying this pitiful, slightly-less-awful picture? Simple. They can't speak Arabic. Juan Cole offeres a more complete picture of what's going on in the region, a picture he is able to express thanks on an amazing ability called "bilingualism." Actually, Cole is fluent in Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads some Turkish, according to his CV. Evidently, the New York Times can't be bothered to make itself aware of what is reported elsewhere. What sort of picture does Cole see in the Arabic media? It still looks like a full-blown civil war to me.

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