Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Tale of Two Iraqs

This is a tale of two polar opposite views of Iraq. Since both purport to tell objective fact on the same topic, only one can be true. The first is written by an influential left wing British think tank. The author drafted it safely in the confines of London. That study was recently relied upon by the Washington Post for the proposition that Iraq is a lost cause. The second is written by a former soldier who has spent most of the last four plus years embedded with troops in Iraq and Afganistan. He is currently living with the Marines in Anbar province. His reporting is routinely ignored by the Washington Post, along with the rest of the MSM. The first view of Iraq comes from a study by Chatham House. The second view comes from Michael Yon.

First, the view of Chatham House, whose study on Iraq the Washington Post cited the other day. I posted:

[The WP] headline is "60 Die in Iraq, Study Warns of Collapse." . . .

The WP quotes liberally from the study's conclusions - mostly to give a very contrarian view to statements by our own U.S. Ambassador in Iraq. But the WP does not quote from the Chatham House study's underlying findings, few if any of which seem supported by fact.

For example, Al Qaeda in Iraq is under extreme pressure, having been largely driven into Diyala Province from its former bases in Anbar Province and Baghdad. Indeed, one major change on the ground in Iraq that is extremely well documented has been the success of the locals in Anbar Province turning on Al Qaeda in Iraq and, with MNF support, driving them largely out of the province. Its been so successful that Marines in Ramadi are complaining of boredom and monotony. Nonetheless, in asserting that things are only getting worse in Iraq, Chatham House actually roots for al Qaeda, ascribing to them the big mo' while downplaying the incredible success of the Anbar Salvation Council:
Al-Qaeda has a very real presence in Iraq that has spread to the major cities of the centre and north of the country, including Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul. Although Al-Qaeda’s position is challenged by local actors, it is a mistake to exaggerate the ability of tribal groups and other insurgents to stop the momentum building behind its operations in Iraq.

This gives a bit of the flavor that thoroughly infests the Chatham House Study. They do the same for the Mahdi Army and downplay recent moves by the SICI to switch allegiance to Grand Ayatollah Sistani. . . .
Do please read the Chatham House Study. Then read this e-mail from Michael Yon sent yesterday to Glen Reynolds and that Glen posts on his site, Instapundit. It discusses life at the moment in Anbar Province after the "local actors" decided to challenge Al Qaeda a few months ago:
Am still in Anbar and just went another day without hearing a single shot fired. Am out with a small group of Marines who live with a much larger group of Iraqis. I enjoy the Iraqi food more than the food at the dining facilities. . . .

I was told that a chemical munition (artillery shell) was found within the last few days.

Today, went on a patrol with Iraqis and a couple of Marines and we talked with Iraqi villagers for a couple of hours. I got to talk with a man who was about 81. His hearing was not good, so I had to sit close. He said he worked for the British RAF here in about 1945-46. I asked him if the British treated him well and he said they treated him very well. Said he made the equivalent of about 25 cents per day but that was good money back then. There is, in fact, a British-Polish-Indian-Aussie-Kiwi cemetery nearby. (I visited and photographed many of the headstones some days ago.)

All the villagers we got to talk with were very friendly. Kids wanted their photos taken, that sort of thing. They were not asking for candy and that was nice. There was a train track nearby (looked to be in very good condition), and a locomotive turned over on its side, derailed. I asked a man what happened, and he said that about four years ago, during the war, an "Ali Baba" (thief) tried to steal the train but ran head-on into another train! He said the police caught the Ali Baba and he has no idea what happened after that.

Marines are getting along well with the locals. They wave a lot, and stop to talk. If the rest of Iraq looked like this, we could all come home!
So who do you think is giving us an accurate picture of Iraq and the effects of the "local actors?" Well, at least we know whom the Washington Post would have us believe. As Bernard Lewis let's us know, leaving Iraq now is fraught with extreme peril and long term consequences for us and the world. So why is the Washington Post unquestioningly citing to a Chatham House study so obviously flawed?

1 comment:

billm99uk said...

You know I've always had problems taking Chatham House entirely seriously, simply because of that name. It sounds like a posh English Gentleman's Club...


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