Wednesday, July 11, 2007

an 'astonishing success' in Iraq

The New York Times's redoubtable John Burns reports an 'astonishing success' in Anbar province as a result of an American offensive that began lasst November. Walking through a bazaar in Ramadi with an American general and his bodyguard, Burns writes in the July 8 issue:

'At last, one leathery-faced trader glanced furtively up and down the narrow, refuse-strewn street to check who might be listening, then broke the silence.

'“America good! Al Qaeda bad!” he said in halting English, flashing a thumb’s-up in the direction of America’s second-ranking commander in Iraq.

'Until only a few months ago, the Central Street bazaar was enemy territory, watched over by American machine-gunners in sandbagged bunkers on the roof of the governor’s building across the road. Ramadi was Iraq’s most dangerous city, and the area around the building the most deadly place in Ramadi. Now, a pact between local tribal sheiks and American commanders has sent thousands of young Iraqis from Anbar Province into the fight against extremists linked to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The deal has all but ended the fighting in Ramadi and recast the city as a symbol of hope that the tide of the war may yet be reversed to favor the Americans and their Iraqi allies.'
(The NYT requires one to register, but there's no charge for reading the content.)

To be sure, Burns doesn't attribute the Ramadi success to the much-derided surge of US forces in Iraq, and he finds all sorts of reasons why it might not be replicated elsewhere in the country. Still, if this experienced hand (Burns was in Baghdad during the 'shock and awe' phase of the American run-up to invasion) finds an 'astonishing success', why do we never hear such stories from the BBC and American broadcasters?

And why doesn't the New York Times pay attention to its own reporter? In the very same issue, a Times editorial proclaims: 'Whatever [Bush's] cause was, it is lost. . . . Keeping troops in Iraq will only make things worse'.

Not in Ramadi, evidently!

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