When asked by the Australian Prime Minister how things were going in Iraq, Bush reportedly said:
"We're kicking ass."
As if on cue:
Seven U.S. troops were killed in Iraq on Thursday, the U.S. military said on Friday.
Four Marines assigned to Multi National Force-West were killed during a combat operation in Anbar province, the Sunni-dominated territory west of Baghdad.
Three U.S. soldiers assigned to Task Force Lightning were killed by an explosion near their vehicle in Nineveh province in northern Iraq.
Bush's statement demonstrates once again that he is utterly disconnected from the reality of what's happening in Iraq. Never mind that twice as many Iraqis are dying in civil war violence than a year ago. Never mind that the number of internally displaced people is going through the roof as sectarian cleansing continues unabated (and is even aided by surge tactics). Never mind that more of our finest are dying at a higher rate this year than in any previous year. Never mind that Maliki's "unity" government has collapsed and that the parliament is paralyzed with infighting. Never mind that Iranian influence continues to grow as rival Shiite militias battle for control of the South. Never mind that the Sunnis are being driven out of Baghdad and gangs of criminals have taken over the police forces.
Never mind all that. We're "kicking ass". That's all that matters.
It's this type of rhetoric that is uniquely effective at undermining support for the war among the American people. Why? Because the people are simply exhausted with hearing the sort of starry-eyed optimism that began with Bush's disastrous "Mission Accomplished" public relations stunt. How many times do we have to listen to these lies? When will the administration start dealing straight with the American people on Iraq? How long do they think this is going to take, how much will it cost and how many lives will be lost? Surely, they must have some idea.
What's more, the American people are fully capable of going to the Iraq Coalition Casualties site and seeing what the real story is for themselves. In addition, the people also know that the military can't be trusted to tell us what's really going on:
The intelligence community has its own problems with military calculations. Intelligence analysts computing aggregate levels of violence against civilians for the NIE puzzled over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal, according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. "If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian," the official said. "If it went through the front, it's criminal."
Lovely. This is the kind of nonsense (like the Tillman episode) that causes people to distrust everything they hear from the military brass. Petreaus can go ahead and give his report but most of the American people won't be listening. They've already made up their minds on this war long ago and they don't trust the brass or the administration to tell us what's going on. They know that Bush's surge is just a strategy to play out the clock on the war and avoid being the President who "lost" in Iraq.
Kicking ass? Indeed. But it's your ass the American people are kicking Mr. President. Get us out of Iraq now.
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