The Peking Duck Tragedy + Open Thread

A friend of mine told me he went to three separate duck restaurants on Sunday and all three had run out of duck. Now we know why. A sad day here at TPD.

Open thread, if you’d like.


Listen up maggot, we can win this

Richard did not write this post, and he doesn’t agree with it.

This is another post I’m sure will go against a lot of people’s “accepted wisdom”, but I found the article interesting.

The Sunday Times on Iraq

Despite everything the world knows about how badly the war in Iraq is going, how hopeless the military outlook remains and how urgently everyone should pack up and go home, the debate in America unexpectedly shifted to a radically different perspective: are things actually going better than we think ?

When Bill Kristol, the prominent neoconservative, suggested last month that President George W Bush might yet triumph in Iraq, he was greeted with abuse. Arianna Huffington, the former socialite turned antiwar blogger, called Kristol’s Washington Post article “the single most deceptive piece of the entire war”. Others derided Kristol as a “partisan fool” and a “Bush sycophant”. The message from the liberal establishment was clear: a US defeat in Iraq is inevitable and woe betide anyone who stands in the way of an urgent troop withdrawal.

Yet uncomfortable developments last week have forced a modest reassessment of Bush’s supposed disaster-in-progress.

I certainly don’t profess to know what will happen in Iraq, and I think anyone who rather arrogantly predicts it going either way is still only guessing. What I do think is that Bush’s surge has not been a failure yet and has a chance of giving Iraq (and the US military) breathing space so that a more orderly solution can be found, rather than a sudden pull-out due to panic, which would assuredly be catastrophic.

The New York Times poll showed that 42% now believe the war is justified, up from 35% in May. The paper was so surprised by the results that it repeated the poll to be sure there had not been a mistake. There was also mildly encouraging news in a record capture of insurgent weapons, a significant decrease in Shi’ite death squad activity and what General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, described as “a reasonable degree of tactical momentum on the ground”.

The most controversial development was another newspaper article with the headline “A war we just might win”. Its academic authors, Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, are still recovering from the onslaught their optimism provoked. Both resident scholars at the Brookings Institution in Washington, O’Hanlon and Pollack returned from an eight-day visit to Iraq to complain that the Bush administration’s critics “seem unaware of the significant changes taking place”.

The two men listed a series of encouraging security developments, from the increasing competence of Iraqi units to the Sunni sheikhs who have turned against Al-Qaeda and the success of the provincial reconstruction teams.

“We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms,” they concluded. “As two analysts who have harshly criticised the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory’, but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.”

Uproar ensued as Pollack and O’Hanlon were accused by liberal bloggers of “selling out” to the neocons. As internet forums seethed with scorn and ridicule, a crucial question went largely ignored. Has the conventional wisdom that Iraq is a disaster become so deeply ingrained that America might start pulling out just when it most needs to stay?…….

“What explains the fact that some critics of the war are unwilling to hear good news of any sort – and get visibly agitated and disdainful when we see signs of progress ?” asked Peter Wehner, a senior security aide to Bush.

I do wonder if some Americans have become so jaded about Iraq that they won’t see anything good come from the surge. I believe that as America and its allies created the current mess, the current security operation in and around Baghdad should be given its chance. At the very least people should wait until Congress receives its report – predictions of failure before even the legislators have seen it is rather premature in my view.

If America puts its tail between its legs and runs for the hills having seen clearer signs of military success in Iraq, it would be an act of pure stupidy as well as cowardice.


The next Abu Ghraib has arrived

This emerging story is almost certain to cause severe tire damage to America’s hearts-and-minds bandwagon now criss-crossing Iraq in its vainglorious attempt to force Iraqis to love us. Abu Ghraib involved serious abuse, torture, and perhaps unintended deaths. This story, however, is far more shocking, as it tells of US Marines actually murdering innocent Iraqi men, women and children in ice-cold blood. And a cover-up, to boot.

Officials briefed on preliminary results of the inquiry said the civilians killed at Haditha, a lawless, insurgent-plagued city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, did not die from a makeshift bomb, as the military first reported, or in cross-fire between marines and attackers, as was later announced. A separate inquiry has begun to find whether the events were deliberately covered up.

Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.

That evidence, described by Congressional, Pentagon and military officials briefed on the inquiry, suggested to one Congressional official that the killings were “methodical in nature.”

Congressional and military officials say the Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry is focusing on the actions of a Marine Corps staff sergeant serving as squad leader at the time, but that Marine officials have told members of Congress that up to a dozen other marines in the unit are also under investigation. Officials briefed on the inquiry said that most of the bullets that killed the civilians were now thought to have been “fired by a couple of rifles,” as one of them put it.

Just what America needs at this point. Keep your eye on this one – I think it’s another nail in the coffin of our failed mission.