Sunday, October 22, 2006

My head hurts

I've just read, again, the latest from the NYT on US plans for Iraq: "U.S. to Hand Iraq a New Timetable on Security Role". It's the policy bookend to an earlier, more political, WAPO article discussed below.
Lots of anonymous administration and Pentagon officials tell us about plans that aren't complete, but are really being considered. There's a blueprint, there are deadlines, there will be consequences if Maliki and friends don't step up to the plate and deliver. The White House denies everything:
In a statement issued Saturday night, a White House spokeswoman, Nicole Guillemard, said the Times'’s account was "“not accurate"”, but did not specify what officials found to be inaccurate.
Rumsfeld continues tripping out in Bizarro world:
He emphasized the urgency of transferring more security and governing responsibilities to the Iraqis. "“It'’s their country,"” he said. "“They'’re going to have to govern it, they'’re going to have to provide security for it, and they'’re going to have to do it sooner rather than later."
But Mr. Rumsfeld was quick to play down expectations: "“There'’s no doubt in my mind but that some of those projections we won'’t make; it will be later, or even earlier in some instances. And in some cases, once we meet the projection, we may have to go back and do it again."”
While Bush continues to resolutely promise victory:

In his radio address on Saturday, Mr. Bush emphasized that the administration was staying flexible in its planning and would "“make every necessary change to prevail."

Saying the goal of victory was "“unchanging,"” he added: "“What is changing are the tactics we use to achieve that goal. Our commanders on the ground are constantly adjusting their approach to stay ahead of the enemy, particularly in Baghdad."

So, what is this article really saying, what's its purpose? It is primarily a place holder for the elections, a courtesy, one of many, from the NYT to the Bush administration to give the impression that something is changing. The only analysis of the actual situation in Iraq, and if Maliki has any capability to accomplish the milestones his masters are preparing is in the last paragraph:

The decision about how far-reaching to make the blueprint is likely to be influenced by what Mr. Maliki and his ministers say they can reasonably accomplish. But American officials are discussing if they should specify whether Iraqi officials deemed incompetent or corrupt should be replaced, one official said. Officials are also considering a timetable for the Iraqi Defense Ministry to have in place systems for paying, feeding and equipping its units, jobs that are still overseen to a large degree by American advisers and by contractors, some of whom have not performed well, officials said.

So really, any milestones the US gives Maliki are still dependent on things he has no control over. So the whole meaning of the article is destroyed by the last paragraph. That's why my head hurts.

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