Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Saturday, April 08, 2006

  January Study: Iraq is (was) in danger of collapse

This evening brings a report from tomorrow's Sunday New York Times, U.S. Study paints somber portrait of Iraqi discord. A bleak picture it is, too, contradicting all the rosy scenarios that the government has been painting lately.

Curiously, the date of this internal staff report, compiled by Embassy and military personnel stationed in Baghdad, is Jan. 31, 2006. Therefore the last two months of rosy scenarios are exposed for the shams they were.

How grim is the portrait? It depicts an Iraq that, already in January was badly fractured along ethnic and religious lines. The study also describes the provincial governments around Iraq as unstable in the extreme, for the most part.

The patterns of discord mapped by the report confirm that ethnic and religious schisms have become entrenched across much of the country, even as monthly American fatalities have fallen. Those indications, taken with recent reports of mass migrations from mixed Sunni-Shiite areas, show that Iraq is undergoing a de facto partitioning along ethnic and sectarian lines, with clashes — sometimes political, sometimes violent — taking place in those mixed areas where different groups meet....

A copy of the report, which is not classified, was provided to The New York Times by a government official in Washington who opposes the way the war is being conducted and said the confidential assessment provided a more realistic gauge of stability in Iraq than the recent portrayals by senior military officers....

In a color-coded map included in the report, the province of Anbar, the wide swath of western desert that is the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, is depicted in red, for "critical." The six provinces categorized as "serious" — Basra, Baghdad, Diyala and three others to the north — are orange. Eight provinces deemed "moderate" are in yellow, and the three Kurdish provinces are depicted in green, for "stable."

The "critical" security designation, the report says, means a province has "a government that is not functioning" or that is only "represented by a single strong leader"; "an economy that does have the infrastructure or government leadership to develop and is a significant contributor to instability"; and "a security situation marked by high levels of AIF [anti-Iraq forces] activity, assassinations and extremism."

The most surprising assessments are perhaps those of the nine southern provinces, none of which are rated "stable." The Bush administration often highlights the relative lack of violence in those regions.


In other words, nearly the whole map of Iraq is splashed with garish colors warning of danger. Why has this information, collected over six weeks by the people in Iraq who ought to know the actual situation, not had an impact upon our government's thinking...or at least, their public pronouncements? Why do we have people like Gen. Peter Pace (Meet the Press, March 5, 2006) still making absurdly sanguine comments about the Iraq war ("going very, very well")?

Because the study was shunted aside:

The report was part of a periodic briefing on Iraq that the State Department provides to Congress, and has been shown to officials on Capitol Hill... It is not clear how many top American officials have seen it; the report has not circulated widely at the Defense Department or the National Security Council, spokesmen there said.


It sounds as if, once again, it came as Inconvenient News. There is a reason why I chose that name for my new blog.

2 Comments:

  • Hi Smintheus. It's me. Power's back on here (two hours earlier than their prediction). Another diary! Someone's been a busy little bee. Nice to see your last one is still at the top of the reco list. Well deserved. I think it should have been front paged, but that's just me.

    -Astraea

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:02 PM  

  • Nice of you to drop in Astraea. You can claim to be the first commenter at this site, which perhaps may make you proud, or sad, depending I suppose on many factors.

    Bewildered at how much attention the crosspost of my earlier piece received. In fact, I was surprised to see more than five comments on it. It is rather long and convoluted, exactly the kind of thing people don't want to read on a Saturday night.

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 4:41 PM  

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