Thursday, January 11, 2007

A surge across all lines of operations

The story I passed on a couple of days ago about scores of Shiites being hanged from lampposts in Baghdad in retaliation for Saddam Hussein’s execution looks like it was a rumor.

Secretary of War Robert
gates 11
, Condi Rice and the always alliterative Peter Pace held a press briefing today.

Condi: “The President has conveyed to the Iraqi leadership that we will support their good decisions, but that Americans’ patience is limited.” Funny, because in the November elections the American people thought they were conveying to the American leadership that our patience is limited, but the message doesn’t seem to have quite gotten through.

Gates: “This means, above all, strengthening those in Iraq who are prepared to address its problems peacefully against those who seek only violence, death and chaos.” Yes, we are asking the Iraqi government to send 60,000 troops into Baghdad to address its problems peacefully.

Gates: “The term ‘surge’ has been used in relation to increasing U.S. troop levels, and an increase certainly will take place. But what is really going on, and what is going to take place, is a surge across all lines of operations -- military and non-military, Iraqi and coalition.” Where earlier Condi sounded like a mother telling the Iraqis that her patience was running out, here Gates sounds like an Appleby’s manager giving a speech to the servers about filling orders faster. “A surge across all lines of operations” indeed.

Gates also informs us that “failure in Iraq is not an option.” Just in case you thought that failure was an option. Now you know. It’s not.

Gates says the surge (unlike Bush, he used the word) is “viewed as a temporary surge. But I think no one has a really clear idea of how long that might be.” He’s also a little vague about how we’ll know if the New Way Forward (TM) is working, although he does mention a new oil law.

Condi: “the Saddam hanging was extremely unfortunate... But these passions do get expressed.”

But she does think that Iraqi leaders are overcoming sectarian differences and sites as evidence of this... work on a new oil law.

Gates says there will be no more political interference in “clearing operations” and arrests: “all law-breakers are susceptible to being detained or taken care of in this campaign.” Taken care of.

And then Gates immediately ducked a question about whether the US would try to detain or take care of Sadr.

QUESTION: One last attempt at this, let me take one last, different way. Has anyone in the military recommended operations inside Iran?


Like Bush, Pace also talks about “going door-to-door to see the people and let them know that there is a security presence”.

Gates says that if “the Iraqis are not fulfilling their commitments,” we will immediately spring into action and come down on them hard: “the way this is going to unfold, we are going to have a number of opportunities to go back to the Iraqis and point out where they have failed to meet their commitments, and to move forward.” Damn, he’s tough! With the pointing out, and the moving forward, do not incur this man’s displeasure, just Do. Not. Do it.

He adds, “if we see them falling short, we will make sure that they know that and how strongly we feel about it.”

Rice, who is going to the Middle East tomorrow but is not going to Iraq (unless it’s one of those, you know, surprise visits), adds that right now we need to give the Maliki regime “a little breathing space” (she actually said that earlier in the day, into a mike she didn’t know was live), because “Maliki needs to work with his government, get his Baghdad commander in place, get his forces in place, get his reconstruction coordinator appointed, and then I fully expect at that time, probably in not very long, to go to Baghdad and to work with them. But I do think it’s important to give them a little time to get organized.” Sure, what’s the hurry, take your time.

From the briefing and her Senate testimony this morning, the many faces of Condi:

Condi 1.11.07   1.jpg

Condi 1.11.07   2.jpg

Condi 1.11.07   3.jpg

Condi 1.11.07   4.jpg

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