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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Memo from Baghdad

The British ambassador to Iraq has returned home, but William Patey's last official confidential diplomatic telegram provides what the BBC calls a "devastating official assessment of the prospects for a peaceful Iraq". As the BBC reports, the pessimism reflected in the leaked memo "stands in stark contrast to the public rhetoric":
The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy.

Even the lowered expectation of President Bush for Iraq - a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror - must remain in doubt.
The Guardian story about the memo notes that a secret American study prepared a few months ago arrived at much the same conclusion:
In April, an internal US government report portrayed a grim picture of Iraq's stability, rating six of the country's 18 provinces as in a "serious" situation and one "critical".

The US ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, confirmed the report, which was leaked to the New York Times. The report, a "provincial stability assessment", prepared by the US embassy and the US military command, was in marked contrast with the sunnier assessments generally heard from the White House and the Pentagon.
The next time President Bush or some other self-serving politician declares, as Bush did just last Wednesday July 26, that he is "confident we will succeed" in Iraq, consider whether the public rhetoric matches the great doubt expressed much more privately by the true experts.

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