Three months into the new U.S. military strategy that has sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Iraq, overall levels of violence in the country have not decreased, as attacks have shifted away from Baghdad and Anbar, where American forces are concentrated, only to rise in most other provinces, according to a Pentagon report released yesterday.
The report — the first comprehensive statistical overview of the new U.S. military strategy in Iraq — coincided with renewed fears of sectarian violence after the bombing yesterday of the same Shiite shrine north of Baghdad that was attacked in February 2006, unleashing a spiral of retaliatory bloodshed. Iraq’s government imposed an immediate curfew in Baghdad yesterday to prevent an outbreak of revenge killings.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer raises questions about Gen. Petraeus; from ThinkProgress:
Center for American Progress Senior Fellow and former Reagan Pentagon official Lawrence Korb writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer today that Petraeus cannot be trusted to deliver an unbiased report:
Many lawmakers will formulate their position on the basis of a coming report from Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the multinational force, to the president. Unfortunately, based on behavior in his last command in Iraq and the manner in which he received his current position, Petraeus is not a reliable source for an unbiased assessment.
As evidence, Korb cites the fact that just before the 2004 election, Petraeus wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post proclaiming there was “tangible progress” because Iraqi forces were “stepping forward.” Korb writes, “If Petraeus wrote on his own initiative, he was injecting himself improperly into a political campaign. If he was encouraged or even allowed to do this by his civilian superiors, he was allowing himself to be used for partisan political purposes.”
That wasn’t an isolated incident. Patreaus has allowed himself to be used as a “political prop” to support the White House’s war czar nominee. And, Petraeus has echoed President Bush’s line that al Qaeda, not sectarian civil war, is the greatest threat in Iraq — an assessment that contradicts the intelligence.