Sep 122007
 
Authors: Phil Elder

As some of you may know, Gen. Petraeus and the Executive Branch recently released their 2007 Iraq progress report to Congress, and, as expected, it was doctored to appeal to the administration’s exponentially failing image.

All things considered- though only four of the 18 goals set for our invasion of the nation and recent surge of troops therein have been met- the report seemed optimistic, representing a 45 percent decrease in overall sectarian violence and civilian casualties.

This report was used, of course, to support the surge of U.S. troop shipment to Iraq and to delay troop withdrawal by another year, a course of action unsupported by congress members across parties and the Iraqi people themselves.

Most unsettling, however, is how the data for the report was gathered.

Intelligence analysts involved in computing data found themselves puzzled at what constituted “sectarian violence” as opposed to simple criminal acts. For example, a senior official, who found himself particularly disturbed, stated “If a bullet went through the back of the head, it’s sectarian, if it went through the front, it’s criminal.”

To save Collegian readers from the proverbial pitfall of belief in these unorthodox means of data representation, I have decided to provide another perspective of the Iraq report, one that acts more as a collection of data than a failed resume cover letter.

According to Reuters, an analysis of violence, independent of political agenda, within the battered nation shows over 1700 civilian deaths in the month of August, turning Petraeus’ 45 percent decrease into an 8 percent increase since last winter.

United States military analysts have concluded that the troop levels in Iraq, over 160,000 now, cannot possibly be maintained by the U.S. armed forces beyond this coming spring.

More haunting than this prospect is the recent proof that Osama bin Laden is still alive and well, and more than likely very happy about the fact that our military, and thus our security, is currently crippled by the proverbial quicksand in which it has found itself.

After the surge of deployment, a joint analysis of three news agencies (BBC, ABC and Japan’s NHK) found that 70 percent of Iraqis believe not only that the recently increased level of troops has reaped no rewards, but actually both deteriorated security and hampered “conditions for political dialogue, reconstruction and economic development.”

Unsettling, yes, but it gets worse. 60 percent of Iraqi citizens, of both Sunni and Shia sects, believe that attacks against American troops are justified.

The Iraqi people don’t want us in their country anymore. However, their government and ruling class are still satisfied with our presence, right?

According to CNN, Iraqi President Nuri al-Maliki told U.S. lawmakers to “butt out” of Iraqi domestic policy, arguing that they “consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages” and that they must give the nation’s new democratic system, that has cost trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, independence from America’s political influence and time to establish itself.

Well known, of course, is the falling support for the war, now below 30 percent, among American citizens, politicians and lawmakers.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi expressed her frustration after Petraeus’ report was given, stating, “despite overwhelming evidence that neither goal has been achieved, Gen. Petraeus testified that the surge would last at least until next summer. This is simply unacceptable.”

The purpose of this article is not to illustrate that the war in Iraq has been a failure. Everyone knows that.

However, it’s important to know that no longer do the American or the Iraqi people, or our respective governments (and not to mention the international community), require our presence in the now war-torn nation.

Yet, because of the dumbfounded and inexplicable persistence of one man’s pride, more and more men and women, who could be our classmates, professors, friends, beer pong partners, and study group mates, have the opportunity to die for a nation that no longer requests their services.

Phil Elder is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com

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