Message to Karl Rove: General Odierno didn't get the memo:
Despite the relatively low number in July, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the U.S. second-in-command, said rogue Shiite militia fighters allegedly armed and trained by Iran were responsible for nearly three-quarters of attacks that killed or wounded his soldiers. He said Tehran was increasing its support for militants ahead of a pivotal report on progress in Iraq to be delivered to Congress next month.
It's reasonable to assume that if 75% of the attacks on our troops are being conducted by the Shiite militias that the remaining 25% would be the responsibility of the dozens of Sunni insurgent and Islamic extremist groups, and the Saudi jihadist army that has entered Iraq (people whom George Bush refers to as "Al Qaeda"). Given the fact that there are about 20 times as many Iraqi Sunni insurgents than Saudi jihadists it's probably safe to estimate that only about 5% of the attacks against our forces are the responsibility of the Saudi jihadists (along with their Syrian, Egyptian and Iraqi accomplices).
It's surprising that Odierno could go off script so badly at this critical juncture when the administration is struggling to maintain support for Bush's deeply unpopular war of choice. Vice President Cheney in a speech a couple of days ago, clearly had received the memo and he's on message. The message being that Iraq is "all about Al Qaeda".
The main battle in Iraq today is against al Qaeda. This, at times, is denied by those who are demanding an American retreat. They overlook the basic facts of the matter.
Cheney goes on to say that the military estimates that "80 to 90 percent of suicide attacks in Iraq are carried out by foreign-born al Qaeda-sponsored terrorists". Conversely, by General Odierno's statement it's clear that these "al Qaeda" terrorists are responsible only for a small fraction of the attacks on US troops while the Shiite militias are the main problem faced by our troops.
So which is it? Are we there to fight the militias who are attacking us or "Al Qaeda" terrorists who aren't? Wouldn't it make sense for us to be taking the fight to the Shiite militias if they are the ones responsible for most of the attacks on our troops? Do we expect our military to ignore these attacks and instead focus on the "Al Qaeda" terrorists who are, for the most part, not concentrating on US forces at all?
There are far more attacks on US forces (dozens per day) than there are suicide bombings (several per week). It stands to reason that if our objective is to stop the suicide bombers we would need far fewer troops in Iraq than we currently have. After all, why should our forces be patrolling areas controlled by the Shiite militias where they are subject to attack by those militias? The Saudi jihadists (who are all Sunnis) certainly are not operating out of implacably hostile Shiite areas. We aren't going to find any Saudis in Sadr City I assure you.
This confusion about who we are fighting in Iraq and why is symptomatic of the administration's never-ending efforts to come up with a retroactive justification for a war of choice that clearly was not necessary for America to fight. First, the enemy was the Republican Guard who had all that nasty nerve gas. Then, it was the fedayeen. Then, it switched to the "dead-enders" and ex-Baathists. Next, it became the Sunni insurgents and the Sadrists. Finally, now it has become "Al Qaeda". The administration continues searching desperately for an enemy that they think Americans will be willing to continue to spill blood to fight in Iraq. But General Odierno's statement undermines their current marketing effort. It's clear that it's not Al Qaeda who is killing the majority of our troops, so this fight can't really be "all about Al Qaeda", can it?
Of course not. That's just another lie.
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