Petraeus comes to town... Where are the clowns...? Send in the clowns...*
* Stephen Sondheim from "A little night music"
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don't bother, they're here.
the petraeus circus is coming to town and, golly gee, everybody is SO excited...!
karen deyoung at the wapo may not be a total clown, but she's pretty damn close...
In a reprise of their testimony last September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker plan to tell Congress today and tomorrow that security has improved in Iraq and that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has taken steps toward political reconciliation and economic stability.
Despite considerable U.S. expenditures on oil and electricity infrastructure, oil exports and the supply of electricity and other services have not risen significantly since 2004. In early April, according to State Department statistics, the electricity supply met 58 percent of demand, compared with 66 percent a year earlier. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported last month that "millions of Iraqis have insufficient access to clean water, sanitation and health care."
Although the administration has put a positive face on the offensive -- describing it as evidence that Maliki's government and the Iraqi military are capable of independent, decisive action -- U.S. military and administration officials privately draw a more mixed picture. They judge Iraqi forces, despite five years of U.S. training, as ill prepared for the mission, which lacked cohesive planning and ultimately ended in a draw, at best, with the Sadrists. U.S. air power was called in to back flailing government forces three days into the operation.
A senior U.S. officer in Iraq described Maliki's action as "both bold and impulsive/hasty." While some Iraqi troops "fought well," he wrote in an e-mail, others were "largely ineffective." Up to 1,000 army and police personnel reportedly either deserted or refused to fight. In the National Police, which is known to be sympathetic to Sadr, "hundreds" of officers were fired, one administration official said.
reuters isn't totally in clown territory either, but they're pretty damn close too...
The top U.S. commander in Iraq presents a long-awaited progress report to Congress on Tuesday but will offer little hope for improved security before a new American president takes over in January.
All three contenders for the U.S. presidency will be among the senators questioning Gen. David Petraeus, who is expected to say he will interrupt a series of troop withdrawals in July to evaluate security conditions.
That decision, made as rising violence threatens to unwind gains made last year, could leave more than 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq though to the end of President George W. Bush's term.
In testimony over two days, Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will assess the uneven progress made in a year-long "surge" of force meant to create the calm for Iraqi politicians to advance legislation and factions to reconcile.
The upturn in violence has thrust Iraq back to the forefront of campaigns for the November presidential election.
i watched cnn's michael ware interviewing ryan crocker this morning (tuesday morning in afghanistan, monday evening in the u.s.) and, even though i happen to have a lot of respect for michael ware, i was terribly disappointed in the softball questions he lobbed to the ambassador... (you can watch here...)
tom engelhardt at the nation is certainly not a clown...
[A]fter years of intensive training by American advisors and an investment of $22 billion dollars, US military spokesmen are once again left trying to put the best face on a strategic disaster (from which they were rescued thanks to negotiations between Muqtada al-Sadr and advisors to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, brokered in Iran by General Qassem Suleimani, a man on the U.S. Treasury Department's terrorist watch list). Think irony. "From what we understand," goes the lame American explanation, "the bulk of these [deserters] were from fairly fresh troops who had only just gotten out of basic training and were probably pushed into the fight too soon."
This week, with surge commander General David Petraeus back from Baghdad's ever redder, ever more dangerous "Green Zone," here are a few realities to keep in mind as he testifies before Congress:
1. The situation in Iraq is getting worse
2. The Bush administration has no learning curve.
3. The "success" of the surge was always an expensive illusion, essentially a Ponzi scheme, for which payment will someday come due.
4. A second hidden surge, not likely to be discussed in the hearings this week, is now under way.
5. A reasonably undertaken but speedy total withdrawal from Iraq is the only way out of this morass.
juan cole is DEFINITELY not a clown...
I am always astounded at the combination of unrealistic optimism and foolish gullibility that marks political discourse on the Right in Washington. We were being told by Glen Lowry at the National Review that Sadr was on the ropes and on the verge of disbanding the Mahdi Army because the other political factions had turned on him, and that the others had had their militias join the regular security forces.
So let us get this straight. Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fought off thousands of regular Iraqi army troops in Basra and Baghdad, and perhaps thousands of those troops deserted rather than fight. So the Mahdi Army won big and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki lost. Also the US military trainers of the Iraqi troops lost face.
So the next thing we hear is that al-Maliki is talking big and demanding that the Mahdi Army be dissolved. Usually you get to talk big if you win the military battle, not if you lose.
The Baghdad fighting is the worst in about a year.
imho, judy collins has the best rendition of "send in the clowns" ever recorded by anyone...
Judy Collins sings "Send in the Clowns" Submit To Propeller