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A local blogger on Barack Obama's possible pivot: I'd like to see the 180 - I suspect we'd be seeing a lot more coverage of progress in Iraq after that.
But did he pivot?
"I'm surprised at how finely calibrated every single word was measured. I wasn't saying anything I hadn't said before, that I didn't say a year ago or when I was a United States senator," said Obama, who is still a senator from Illinois.According to USA Today the answer is "no" - he's always held that nuanced position:
Democratic candidate Barack Obama said he wants to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months, although he said any pullout would be determined by conditions there.But according to the Washington Post, the answer is yes:
Although Obama has long pledged to begin immediately withdrawing combat troops at a rate of one to two brigades a month, completing the process within 16 months, he has recently tempered his position with a promise to consult with U.S. commanders on the ground before taking any action.So everyone gets a share of the "hope", and learns a little more about "change".
Regardless, over the past several days I found a number of "good news" stories from Iraq - often under positive headlines. Perhaps, as with Obama's commitment to withdraw from Iraq only if conditions warrant and the Generals say it's okay, that's always been the case. Such stories are usually balanced with bad news, of course (always a good idea in war reporting) - as though like shy prom dates on their first dance the media and the Obama campaign seem confused as to who exactly should lead. But the good news is peeping out, and such behavior should be encouraged.
There is not enough space in USA TODAY to recount all the wonderful stories that go beyond just the recent significant reductions in violence and death.Okay, that one doesn't count - its a letter to the editor from a guy who just completed a tour of duty in Iraq.
But I think this does:
Meanwhile, violence by nearly every measure is down in Iraq. Al-Maliki said this weekend that terrorists in Iraq were defeated.As does this:
Mullen flew by helicopter to Baghdad's Sadr City after arriving in the capital on an overnight flight from Washington. He visited U.S. troops at a coalition observation post and strolled through a market in Sadr City. “We saw extraordinary progress there,” he said. “A few months ago no one could go into Sadr City. I was able to walk openly down a street that until recently was extremely unsafe, and I'm encouraged by that.”Here's a 'good' headline: Iraq Vehicle Bombs At Lowest Level In Years. And here's another: U.S. Commander A Smooth Operator (and the commander referenced isn't General Petraeus).
Kirkuk may be the only province in Iraq in which the police force functions almost like its American counterpart, proactively seeking to prevent crime and terrorist acts while trying to serve and protect citizens. Recently, Paschal helped dedicate a new major crime-unit facility aimed at helping police bring cases to court against detainees based on evidence, not whim or ethnic affiliation. ''It highlights the importance of the rule of law,'' Paschal said, ``and will stand as an example to the rest of Iraq on what you can establish when you establish security.''This might be good: Iraqi Shiite Party Rises As Sadr Falls. And this certainly seems to be:
Iraq To Get Debt Relief From EmiratesCloser to home, the LA Times: " Iraq To Open Consulate In San Diego".
...In addition to canceling the debt, Emirates leader Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan pledged to send an ambassador to Baghdad and help with the reconstruction of holy shrines in Iraq damaged by years of war and civil strife.
Iraq's finance minister had said last week that several other Sunni Arab countries were planning to set up embassies in Baghdad. Besides the United Arab Emirates, he named Jordan, Bahrain and Kuwait.
From the other coast, the NY Times: Iraqi Parties, After Meetings In Finland, Agree On Principles To Guide Further Talks
And here's another from the New York Times on Diyala:
The province became the headquarters of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the extremist Sunni insurgent group most associated with suicide bombings and beheadings. The danger was great enough that Western reporters could visit Diyala only while embedded with American troops.It's not all butterflies and rainbows, but it is news that would earn scorn for anyone atttempting to point it out one year ago.
But in late June, a New York Times reporter and photographer traveled to the provincial capital, driving in old Iraqi cars with an interpreter to see how much had changed.
On admittedly smaller scales, there's this:
BAGHDAD - Muntadhar al-Sharify stood shivering yesterday in Baghdad's searing heat, a smile on his young face.And this:
The Iraqi boy had just completed a rite of passage known to children around the world - his first swim. But his fun also marked something broader: Another small step in Baghdad's halting progress from violence to more normal life.
BAGHDAD--Iraqis no longer have to settle just for thick Turkish coffee, cardamom-laced tea, strawberry-flavored milk or bottled water to quench their summertime thirst. Beer and alcoholic beverages are readily available once again.And this:
There are no bars outside the American-controlled Green Zone and parts of Kurdish territory in northern Iraq, for booze is sold retail only. But more shop owners are reopening behind iron gates.
Take Saif. At 19, he's barely old enough to buy liquor in Iraq; the law says 18. But the improbably young entrepreneur's family owns four liquor stores in Baghdad, and business, after years of literally being blown out from under them, is becoming brisk.
Baghdad Park A Unique Refuge For Young Couples In LoveEven the battles get "positive" coverage (at least in countries that aren't having presidential elections this year):
Many of the couples sneak away from university lectures and sit arm-in-arm, whispering and kissing under the shade of eucalyptus trees each morning. On many days, there's not a single empty bench.
Iraqis lead final purge of Al-QaedaSome will recall Arthur Chrenkoff's compilations of "good news" stories from Iraq. They relied heavily on non-American media sources. For now that's no longer the case, for whatever reason the days of complaining about media ignoring good news from Iraq should be over.
American and Iraqi forces are driving Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.
And for whatever reason, that's the real good news.
Obama reminds me of an old t-shirt slogan:
"I know you believe you understand what you thought you heard me say. Unfortunately, what I said wasn't what I meant."Posted by JorgXMcKie at July 9, 2008 02:28 PM
There are two ways to end a conflict...surrender and victory.
There has never been any disagreement by anyone of any political stripe that ending the conflict in Iraq would be a good thing.
I'd expect the advocates of surrender to go quiet fairly soon. No point in surrendering if the conflict is already over.Posted by SoldiersDad at July 9, 2008 03:22 PM
To those who think this war has been won, beware. The enemy are more resilient and determined than you give them credit for. After all, the mainstream media have been counted out before, only to come roaring back.Posted by willis at July 9, 2008 04:38 PM
So the less you read the American press, the more accurate your news of the world? Probably right. Just think, if the terrorists had bombed US journalists in their US offices, news reporting inside the US, about the rest of the world, might have gotten more accurate.Posted by abu al-fin at July 9, 2008 04:41 PM
willis, wise words.Posted by jordan at July 11, 2008 12:14 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(5) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)