Who to believe?

I’m kicking myself for not saving an article written by an AP military writer sometime in the last week. The article discusses the author’s feelings that progress is being made in Iraq. A re-reading would make me more comfortable characterizing the article, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. From what I recall, the basis for this position was increasing cooperation from locals in the fighting against al-Qaeda, and a general feeling based on two weeks in Iraq.

At the time I was pleased to read something that trended optimistic… it was a nice change. At the same time, I would have felt better if something more concrete was offered as evidence. What was the frame of reference for the writer’s better than expected trip to Iraq? Was it expectation or previous experience? Knowing which it was would allow me to put the comments in context, and evaluate them appropriately.

As for the increasing cooperation of locals in the fighting against foreign terrorists, an article in the New Republic put a different spin on things:

U.S. forces collaborating with Sunni militants who have turned against Al Qaeda–seems likely to make any eventual reconciliation (with Shi’ites in Iraq) even more improbable. However useful these partnerships may be tactically, U.S. assistance to the Islamic Army and 1920 Revolution Brigade necessarily strengthens and legitimizes such groups. Whether intended or not, one result is to undermine the claims of Iraqi authorities in Baghdad to represent the nation’s sole, rightful government.

It’s the equivalent of the police arming the Crips to take on the Bloods. Here and there, gang violence might briefly subside, but the rule of law is unlikely to benefit. And, sooner or later, the Crips will turn their guns on the cops.

In the mean time, it seems the numbers on violence are holding steady. So much for optimism.

Give the gift of words.