New polls indicate that most Iraqis want US troops to leave Iraq, and generally see the presence of our forces as contributing to the country’s instability. One would think this would be considered an important data point in the ongoing forward-looking Iraq debate. On the other hand, this polling is consistent with all the polls I’ve seen for years now and it seems to have had very little impact on people.
said Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who described torture at Abu Ghraib as “hazing.”
In today’s briefing, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow challenged a reporter who said the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concluded that we’re not safer. Snow retorted, “Look for, ‘We’re not winning.’ Please show me. Well, the President says we’re winning.” Watch it:
We looked through the NIE for Snow. Some examples of “We’re not winning”:
“[A] large body of all-source reporting indicates that activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.” [p. 1]
“If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide.” [p. 1]
“We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.” [p. 2]
“The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” [p. 2]
“Anti-US and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests.” [pp. 3-4]
Full transcript below: Read more
For book research purposes, I’ve recently been re-reading Kenneth Pollack’s The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq. It’s an interesting experience. This passage appears on page 353:
The United States is not a rogue superpower determined to do what it wants regardless of who it threatens or angers. If we behave in this fashion, we will alienate our allies and convince much of the rest of the world to band together against us to try to keep us under control. Rather than increasing our security and prosperity, such a development would drastically undermine it.
I was thinking about that when I wrote my latest and very shrill column for TAP Online. It’s a much more polite commentary, but fundamentally I think John Ikenberry’s continuing work on the “Security Trap” concept is expressing the same idea.
Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, has sent a letter to intelligence director John Negroponte demanding that he complete the second NIE on Iraq quickly, and release a declassified version before the elections in November. An excerpt:
NIEs have been produced in as little as several weeks, as in the case of the 2002 report on Iraqi WMD. While I understand the desire to be thorough, events in Iraq make it urgent that the Intelligence Community produce this NIE immediately. If your intention is to delay this report until after the November elections, I do not think that is appropriate given that U.S. troops are at risk at this moment. …
I urge you to expedite completion of the NIE and to release it in both classified and publicly releasable unclassified forms.
White House advisor Fran Townsend said yesterday, “My understanding is the planned release date, given the work that must be done to have it be comprehensive and complete, is January of ’07.”
UPDATE: A reader tips us off to the following tidbit from the Council on Foreign Relations:
How long does it take to write an NIE?
NIE drafting guidelines included in the July 9 Senate report describe three rough timeframes: a “fast track” of two to three weeks, a “normal track” of four to eight weeks, and a “long track” of two months or more. The vice chairman of the NIC told Senate investigators that an NIE prepared in 60 days would be considered a very fast schedule and that NIEs typically take three to six months to complete.
Read the full letter: Read more
than former President Bill Clinton for the fact that Osama bin Laden has not been captured, according to a new Gallup poll.
The Program on International Policy Attitudes released a new poll on Iraqi public opinion today which finds that seven in ten Iraqis want US-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year. Moreover, an overwhelming majority believes that the US military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing. The poll was conducted during the first week of September. Here are some of its key findings:
– A large majority of Iraqis–71%–say they would like the Iraqi government to ask for US-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq within a year or less. Given four options, 37 percent take the position that they would like US-led forces withdrawn “within six months,” while another 34 percent opt for “gradually withdraw[ing] US-led forces according to a one-year timeline.”
– Support for attacks against US-led forces has increased sharply to 61 percent (27% strongly, 34% somewhat). This represents a 14-point increase from January 2006, when only 47 percent of Iraqis supported attacks.
– More broadly, 79 percent of Iraqis say that the US is having a negative influence on the situation in Iraq, with just 14 percent saying that it is having a positive influence.
– Asked “If the US made a commitment to withdraw from Iraq according to a timeline, do you think this would strengthen the Iraqi government, weaken it, or have no effect either way?” 53 percent said that it would strengthen the government, while just 24 percent said it would weaken the government.
– Asked what effect it would have “if US-led forces withdraw from Iraq in the next six months,” 58 percent overall say that violence would decrease (35% a lot, 23% a little).
Read the full report HERE.
Yesterday, Jane Harman revealed the existence of a second National Intelligence Estimate, focusing exclusively on Iraq. TPM Muckraker reports:
At an event this morning, Harman disclosed the existence of a classified intelligence community report that gives a grim assessment of the situation in Iraq, and called for it to be shared with the American public — before the November elections.
…Dr. Lawrence Korb, a former senior Defense Department official now with the liberal-progressive Center for American Progress, hasn’t seen the report but has discussed it with those who have. “It’s a very bleak picture of what’s going on in Iraq,” he said.
In a conference call with reporters last night, White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend acknowledged the existence of the report, but said it wouldn’t be available until January 2007:
My understanding is the planned release date, given the work that must be done to have it be comprehensive and complete, is January of ’07. But I will tell you, that’s still quicker than most NIEs get done. The timing has got nothing to do with the election.
The enduring popularity of France-bashing in the United States is a fascinating phenomenon. Nick Gillespie spies Marty Peretz getting the bug. What’s especially fascinating is the particular form of the contemporary France-bashing narrative, as reflected in Peretz’ post. According to this story, the USA differs from France in our greater eagerness to go to war and that this disagreement reflects superior wisdom on the part of the United States. Interestingly, neither prong of that narrative is supportable.
Obviously, there was an instance of France being unwilling to fight in a situation where the USA wanted to go in — Iraq, 2003. But here the French position — that Saddam’s WMD programs were not a serious danger, that a western occupation of an Arab country was likely to go poorly, and that such a war would hinger the fight against al-Qaeda — has been utterly vindicated. Other recent American wars — for Kuwaiti independence, against Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia, agains the Taliban — were undertaken with French support. Before that, you had Vietnam where France fought Ho Chi Minh’s movement first, lost, then let us go make all the same mistakes over again. So French dovishness comes down to one war — Iraq, part deux — that France didn’t want to fight, and that France was right not to want to fight.
France’s “rep” for weakness and appeasement comes, of course, from World War II. But in 1938, France was the non-axis country most eager to fight Germany. Going to war without the support of England, the USSR, or the United States would have been a horrible policy. Once their British ally was on board, they fought. They lost, of course, but the contrast between France, the UK, and the USA in this regard is that France was located adjacent to Germany without a convenient stretch of ocean to block the Nazi advance.
I’m not going to deny that David Ignatius makes a legitimate point or two here, but what’s the deal with “Some extreme war critics are so angry at Bush they seem almost eager for America to lose, to prove a political point.” That’s a serious charge. Does Ignatius have evidence for it? No. Does he cite any examples? No. Does he name any names? No. I find it extremely frustrating that you’re allowed to toss off this kind of liberal-bashing without providing any backing.
This matters not because I doubt Ignatius could find someone or other who “seems” like he’s “eager” for America to lose. It matters because “extreme war critic” is such a vague phrase. For years, perfectly mainstream war critics — Howard Dean, Tony Zinni, Richard Clarke, Dick Durbin, Zbigniew Brzezinski — were portrayed as “extreme” and they still are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and alternate Saturdays. On the other hand, when I was in college there were these members of the Spartacist Youth League (or something) who would sit on the corner calling for the violent overthrow of the US government ranting and raving about North Korea’s inalienable right to nuclear weapons and the need to unify the peninsula under Pyongyang’s beneficent rule. No doubt those “extreme war critics” really do want to see America lose. But is Ignatius talking about crazy people who shout on streetcorners — in which case his observation is silly — or is he talking about meaningful participants in American politics, in which case it’s false? Well, I think, he’s talking about the former, but talking as if he’s talking about the latter.
Which is just to say that, once again, practitioners of the Higher Broderism can get away with saying just about anything about American liberals without needing to seriously support it. As long, of course, as what they’re saying is critical.