Praying for success (but knowing failure)

Iraq is a success. Democracy is soon to flower. The US strategy is correct. The Australian government’s support of this plan is supportable. General David Petraeus is a master.

No, it’s not a White House press release, it’s a handful of Australian “journalists” who received “exclusive” access to the General in Baghdad. The Murdoch broadsheet:

The US troop surge in Iraq has thrown al-Qa’ida off balance and produced a dramatic reduction in sectarian killings and a drop in roadside bombings.

David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said the build-up of American forces in Baghdad since late January had produced positive outcomes. These included the killing or capture of al-Qa’ida fighters, causing the terrorist group to lose influence with local Sunnis.

The strategic gains against insurgents would lead to a changed and possibly longer-term role for Australian troops, shifting from security operations to a focus on training Iraqi soldiers and police.

General Petraeus told The Australian during a face-to-face interview at his Baghdad headquarters there had been a 75 per cent reduction in religious and ethnic killings since last year, a doubling in the seizure of insurgents’ weapons caches between January and August, a rise in the number of al-Qa’ida “kills and captures” and a fall in the number of coalition deaths from roadside bombings.

“We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress and we believe al-Qa’ida is off balance at the very least,” he said.

The Fairfax broadsheets:

David Petraeus, the US military commander in Iraq, has given a preview of his forthcoming report to Congress, citing a dramatic reduction in violence in Baghdad and foreshadowing a “gradual” reduction in the number of troops in Iraq.

The Herald interviewed General Petraeus in Baghdad on Wednesday after he had a 90-minute meeting with the Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, and Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

General Petraeus revealed the thinking behind his report, due on September 10, on President George Bush’s “surge” strategy of increasing the number of US troops in Iraq, and divulged several measures of progress.

“We say we have achieved progress and will do all we can to build on that progress, [and] that al-Qaeda is off balance and we are certainly pressuring them,” General Petraeus said.

The shamelessness of these “reports” are laughable.

Let me paint a picture. The Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson is going to Iraq. He wants a handful of clueless propagandists to come along and shore up flagging support for the war. They spend a few hours in Baghdad’s Green Zone, speak to virtually no Iraqis, hear rosy pictures about Iraq’s future, and describe these breathless exclusives. Bingo. John Howard is a genius, one says, those Bush haters and anti-war activists should get a new line.

The reality? It’s barely worth repeating. Over one million dead Iraqis, millions are displaced in the Middle East and within the country itself, ethnic cleansing pollutes many communities, and in another new report, the US is detaining so many Iraqis since the “surge” was announced that Iraqis are wondering how many other Abu-Ghraibs are waiting to be discovered. And let’s not even mention the fact that al-Qaeda is a tiny fraction of the insurgency (most are native Iraqis.) Likewise that the vast majority of foreign fighters are Saudis, not Iranians. Minor details, I know.

The fact that Australia’s major media companies are willing to print such deluded and dishonest reports suggests that restoring American “prestige” is their only focus. In fact, it proves that the Australian media is little more than a parochial back-water, happy to publish White House slops.