Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
Attitudes about Iraq and Gonzales (update)
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Apparently some are, at least for the time being. Frank James, from the Chicago Trib's "The Swamp" reports:
First, the good news for President Bush. A lot of Republicans and political independents believe the Iraq surge is working. It appears the president's political base and then some are encouraged by reports out of Iraq about the decline in violence in Baghdad.
Most Republicans (53%) believe that the troop increase put in place by George W. Bush is already making things better in Iraq, and 68% say that the surge will make things better in the long run. Democrats are dubious that the troop increase is either currently improving the situation in Iraq, or will have a positive effect in the future. Independents are generally skeptical the troop increase is making things better now, but 38% believe that the surge will make things better in the long run.
Democrats, as would be expected, didn't share this optimism. Fully 81 percent thought the surge wasn't having an effect or was making things worse.
He's citing a Pew Research Center Poll just released. It shows how precarious, politically, the Democrat position in Congress is at the moment. If the trend in Iraq continues to improve, and the Democrats can count on digging their own political grave with their insistence on arbitrary withdrawal dates and attempts at micromanaging the war.

In other poll results:
Here's more good news for the White House from the poll on a completely different topic. Many Americans apparently aren't paying attention to the scandal surrounding the firing of the eight federal prosecutors.

The Pew survey found that almost two-thirds of those surveyed hadn't heard much or anything at all of the scandal that has the attention of Washington's media herd.

Thus, there's clearly no huge tidal wave of public clamor for the firing or resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez.
As most of us have understood from the beginning, this is being driven by the netroots gang and they have the usual suspects in the House and Senate dancing to their tune. No huge surprise there, but as James says, don't believe the spin that says a majority of Americans want Gonzales gone, even if a majority of the leftosphere does.

More:
Now the bad news for congressional Democrats. The same poll indicated that there's much frustration with them for their inability to force the president's hand on Iraq.
While Democrats and Republicans disagree over what Congress should do about Iraq, there is bipartisan criticism of Congress’s handling of the issue to date. Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) – including 77% of Republicans, 78% of independents and 66% of Democrats – say Congress is doing only a fair or poor job dealing with Iraq. Just 22% say Congress has done an excellent (3%) or good job (19%) in this regard.

For Democrats, much of this frustration is linked to the sense that Congress has too little influence on Iraq policy, and has not aggressively challenged President Bush’s approach. Most Democrats (56%) believe that Congress should have “a lot of influence” over the direction of U.S. policy in Iraq, and an identical number says that Democratic leaders in Congress have not gone far enough in challenging George W. Bush’s policies.
This takes us to two points we've talked about previously. The Congressional Democrats refuse to take responsibility for the war, so they'll not do what they can actually do to end the US participation in the war, i.e. defund it. Instead they're playing stupid political tricks which make them seem inept and powerless. It also points to a basic misunderstanding of the public which seems to think Congress has the right, Constitutionally, to micromanage the war. Again, note that the majority of Democrats believe that Congress should have "a lot of influence" and that's why they turned out and voted last November. It was based on the promise that the Congressional Dems would have "a lot of influence over the direction of US policy in Iraq".

Not all the polling data is negative for the Dems:
But the poll wasn't completely devoid of good news for Democrats. In fact, in its press release Pew led with what should be a happy result for Democrats: 59 percent of those surveyed said they wanted their congressional representative to vote for a bill that would require a U.S. troop withdrawal by August 2008.
Democrats are united in their support of legislation calling for a U.S. troop withdrawal by August
2008, and most independents (61%) also favor this step. Most Republicans oppose this step, but there are substantial divisions within the GOP. More than four-in-ten moderate and liberal Republicans (44%) want their representative to vote for legislation calling for an August 2008 deadline for a troop withdrawal, compared with only about a quarter of conservative Republicans (26%).
But again, don't forget the first point in this post. What you see above is probably a lagging indicator. If the surge continues to show improvement in tamping down the violence, and if we continue to see improvement in the diplomatic, economic and political spheres (as well as the military/security sphere), these numbers could begin to change.

UPDATE: More analysis from Keith.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
If the surge continues to show improvement in tamping down the violence

The trend of the past few months has been usually between 50 and 100 Iraqi deaths a day, some days over 100, and more rarely some days under 50. I haven’t seen any change in that, and the number of Iraqi wounded, as well as GI deaths, remains high. I think there is a big PR push to say "the surge is working," but that’s mostly reports from military people or sources friendly anyway to the US effort. Be wary of optimism based on such scrawny data. It also seems that the surge has moved from 21,000 to perhaps 30,000, which could suggest it’s going more difficult than expected. Also, I think one has to wonder what is meant by the surge working. Is it designed to give the US a "peace with honor moment," and allow us to leave during a modicum of stability (and then let the Iraqis try to keep it), or are the goals greater? So far there is more noise than real evidence, and depending on who you read, the evidence goes both ways. Given the history of these initiatives (early optimism and claims of success, combined with a strong PR effort, followed by disappointment) one should, again, be cautious.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Be wary of optimism based on such scrawny data
As opposed to being wary of scare-mongering based on such scrawny data, right?

OOOOOPS!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Scott -
The trend of the past few months has been usually between 50 and 100 Iraqi deaths a day, some days over 100, and more rarely some days under 50.
That’s not a "trend," though. A trend has a direction.
I haven’t seen any change in that, and the number of Iraqi wounded, as well as GI deaths, remains high. I think there is a big PR push to say "the surge is working," but that’s mostly reports from military people or sources friendly anyway to the US effort.
I’m going to take your word on this next question: Are you equally skeptical of sources who have a bias against the US effort? How do you identify them?
It also seems that the surge has moved from 21,000 to perhaps 30,000, which could suggest it’s going more difficult than expected.
Erm, not really. The 30,000 was baked into the surge cake. The 21,000 were all combat units, and the additional troops were requested by Petraeus quite early on as support for the combat troops. Included among the extra troops are MPs for handling all the extra detainees expected to be caught in the surge’s net.
Given the history of these initiatives (early optimism and claims of success, combined with a strong PR effort, followed by disappointment) one should, again, be cautious.
While I understand what you’re saying, I’ve also been following the military’s strategy and evolving tactics over the course of the war. If the surge’s leadership can do anywhere near as well as they did in the Anbar campaign—and some of the same indicators are there, including an explosion in local human intelligence—then I think that we’re going to see a more sustained progress.

I have some idea of the indicators I’m looking for. What, to you, would be the indicators that your pessimism is misplaced, Scott?

Hmm... I may just set up a post specifically to ask for people’s predictions about the war, so people can register their predictions about specifics of this whole thing. Then, as events are borne out, we can see who was right and why. Everyone who was wrong could then be asked to account for the difference between their predictions and reality.
 
Written By: Bryan Pick
URL: http://www.qando.net
Everyone who was wrong could then be asked to account for the difference between their predictions and reality.
It appears to me the answer to that would be "I was wrong.", so I’m not sure what the exercise is suppose to show.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
While I understand what you’re saying, I’ve also been following the military’s strategy and evolving tactics over the course of the war. If the surge’s leadership can do anywhere near as well as they did in the Anbar campaign—and some of the same indicators are there, including an explosion in local human intelligence—then I think that we’re going to see a more sustained progress.

I have some idea of the indicators I’m looking for. What, to you, would be the indicators that your pessimism is misplaced, Scott?

Hmm... I may just set up a post specifically to ask for people’s predictions about the war, so people can register their predictions about specifics of this whole thing. Then, as events are borne out, we can see who was right and why. Everyone who was wrong could then be asked to account for the difference between their predictions and reality.
My prediction is that the goal of this campaign is a peace with honor moment. The US force is directed primarily against the Sunnis, so the Mahdi army and al-Sadr are lying low. That means they won’t be disarmed and while their inactivity may (and hopefully will) decrease their efficacy, I think too many people have become hardened sectarian warriors that the problem will still exist.

By early 2008, if the surge works in decreasing Sunni insurgent violence in Baghdad, and if the Shi’ites aren’t goaded into acting and stay subdued, then the US will claim the surge has brought stability to the region, and thus we can start to bring people home. I think there is a reasonable chance this can happen, this is probably the best military strategy that could be developed given the realities of Iraq and both the US military and public opinion.

What happens next is the tricky part. The surge will not have disarmed most sectarian militias (Sunnis will move away from Baghdad, and the Shi’ites will be in hiding). Insurgents shift around to wait out something like a surge which they know is of limited duration. I do not believe the Iraqi government, which is riddled with infiltrators and corruption, will be up to truly running things. I’ll give three possible scenarios — or really four, though I don’t think the first is realistic.

1. Best unlikely scenario: The Iraq government settles political disputes with Sunnis, militias lose strength after the surge, and a period of increasing stability emerges where the US can leave claiming "victory." I rate this as very unlikely.

2. Best likely scenario: intense diplomacy with Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia bring these states to pressure Sunnis and Shi’ites in Iraq to settle their disputes in order avoid a regional war. The US in essence hands off Iraqi stability to regional powers who have a vested interest in avoiding a spreading conflict. If that works, the surge will be a success. This has a chance, but the downside is that we’d be relying on rather roguish states. Also, the status of American troops in the region or remaining in Iraq would be very tricky.

3. Worst likely scenario: The US withdraw and redeployment of forces perhaps to Kurdish regions is followed by a massive spike in sectarian violence and Shi’ite efforts at ethnic cleansing in places like Baghdad. The US has to then decide whether or not to give up or instead embrace partition and keep bases in Kurdish territory (Turkey won’t like it, but if the US is there that would likely keep Turkey at bay). I doubt public opinion would allow a third choice of sending more troops to end the sectarian fighting. At this point I find this the most likely scenario, with the US ending up with a force perhaps permanently stationed in Kurdish Iraq (Kurdistan?) A moderately better outcome is international intervention creates a partition that can be maintained with multilateral forces (probably from Muslim states, mixed Shi’a and Sunni), avoiding a bloodbath.

4. Worst long term scenario: The US decides to give up on the democratic experiment and install a strong man loyal to the US and fund/support a crushing of the militias. That may bring stability and even allow us a long term presence in Iraq. But we’d just be setting up another future collapse and perhaps a future revolution like the one that overthrew the Shah. And it might not work if resistance is too strong. I don’t think this Administration is predisposed to this solution, thankfully.

Note: all of these assume that the surge reduces Baghdad violence by early 2008; if the surge fails to do that, then I suspect we’ll just say we did all we could and the Bush Administration will pull out in order not to have an unpopular war dominate the election season.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The trend of the past few months has been usually between 50 and 100 Iraqi deaths a day, some days over 100, and more rarely some days under 50. I haven’t seen any change in that, and the number of Iraqi wounded, as well as GI deaths, remains high.
Actually, I don’t think the available data supports you.

http://icasualties.org/oif_a/CasualtyTrends.htm

http://icasualties.org/oif/HNH.aspx

http://icasualties.org/oif/IraqiDeaths.aspx

While US deaths are up somewhat, we are also in direct combat operations, and every time we are in direct combat operations, our casualties go up.

What we need to determine trends are solid numbers of the number killed by ambush, vs the number killed during combat operations. The 2nd graph is close in that it separates out cause by hostile vs non-hostile.

Now, if you look at the 3rd graph, the trends are down for Iraqi civilians, and up for Iraqi Police/Military. Again, this is probably due to being in direct combat operations.
that’s mostly reports from military people or sources friendly anyway to the US effort.
You can look past the specifics and look at what the general trend of what is occurring.

Sadr’s militia is breaking up, some going to ground, others engaged in the political process. That is a plus for us and Iraq.

Moderates in Baghdad see that the operations are targeting only one specific group. That is a plus for us and Iraq.

http://pajamasmedia.com/2007/03/baghdad_report_taking_a_breath.php
Overall, the security operation continues to gain more support among the political parties, including some that were skeptical in the beginning out of fear the operation would not be impartial. Today a spokesman of the Accord Front, to which VP Hashimi and deputy PM Zobaie belong, affirmed the AF’s support for the ongoing operation saying, “Our bloc, seeing the security forces covering Baghdad’s districts and operating without discrimination, is now convinced that the operation is unbiased.”
Sunni/al-Qaeda split widens. Again, a plus for us and Iraq.

link...
Insurgent leaders and Sunni Arab politicians say divisions between insurgent groups and Al Qaeda in Iraq have widened and have led to combat in some areas of the country, a schism that U.S. officials hope to exploit.

The Sunni Arab insurgent leaders said they disagreed with the leadership of Al Qaeda in Iraq over tactics, including attacks on civilians, as well as over command of the movement.
So, there is reason behind the optimism. True, there’s been good reasons to hope that previous efforts could succeed. And there were reasons, failure to back up combat successes with political and economic successes, that some of those previous efforts failed.

Where things have succeeded and taken root conditions are relatively stable.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
BTW McQ - Also buried in the poll, there was a 10% jump in the number of people who think the situation in Iraq is going well.

That includes +10% with Independents, +9% with Democrats and +16% with Republicans.

Also, the percent calling the Iraq invasion the “right decision” rose from 40 to 43.

I cover this in my blog, http://asecondhandconjecture.com/?p=662
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
Oh, and here’s something that missed the front pages...

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/462dosrs.asp
The Coalition and Iraqi government are also in the process of retraining and redeploying the Iraqi National Police. In 2006, the majority of National Police units were infiltrated with militias. Their deployment inside Baghdad without Coalition oversight partially led to the failure of the previous Baghdad security plan—Operation Together Forward.

The Coalition created Operation Quicklook, a program designed to purge the police battalions of militia and insurgents, issue new uniforms and identification badges, and retrain and reequip the forces for urban combat and security operations. Phase I was inspections, Phase II is re-bluing, re-equipping, replacements (purge) and Brigade training, Phase III will be field training/ops, and Phase IV is when the Ministry of the Interior takes over Phase I thru III. The most heavily infiltrated brigades were put through Quicklook II first. The 8th Brigade of the 2nd Iraqi Police Division lost over 40 percent of its ranks; the 4th Brigade of the 1st Iraqi Police Division was reduced by 30 percent. One year ago only one brigade commander and two battalion commanders were Sunni. Today, 4 of 9 brigade commanders and 13 of 27 battalion commanders are Sunni. Half of the brigades have gone through Quicklook II., and at least three are now serving inside Baghdad along with other police units that haven’t yet gone through the program.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
It appears to me the answer to that would be "I was wrong.", so I’m not sure what the exercise is suppose to show.
First, admitting to having been wrong about specific things is a big step forward for many people.

Second, if they say the likely reasons (they think) they were wrong, that’s an even bigger step forward.
"I trusted X and Y, but they were wrong about such-and-such"
or "I failed to notice how this trend would impact issue Z"
or "I had no idea that B and C were that close to buckling/coming to the table."

This kind of accountability helps everyone. It forces individuals to come to terms with specific blind spots of theirs, and gives other people clues as to who’s worth listening to. Predictions give you clues as to whose commentary is not just satisfying to hear but which can help you win a wager. In other words, who’s actually right.
I’d like to have this kind of accountability forced on me (and a lot of other people, actually), and I hope it is when I really start blogging with some frequency come late May or June.
 
Written By: Bryan Pick
URL: http://www.qando.net
Keith, I tend to get my Iraq casualty counts here.

Not an unbiased source, I admit, but they seem to do a good job of tracking. Still, since I’ve complained that McQ and others focus on sources like the Weekly Standard and government/military officials and ridicule too much opposing views, I have to question sources and compare a variety. Thanks for the links.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider