Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A postcard from Dave

Dave--the only person in Iraq who reads Spot--at least as far as Spot knows--left this comment to Spot's post about Dave's--yup, the same Dave--recent letter in the Strib. Dave quarreled with several things, as Dave is wont to do, but Spot did want to reply to a couple of things.

Here's a quote from Dave's comment:
Spot gives a great example by saying that "he read somewhere that the Anbar province is lost". Which actually means that he heard from someone who heard from someone who saw a report from a reporter who has never been outside the green zone in Baghdad that things are bad in Anbar.
Spot's comment was hardly the central point of his post, and Spot did not source the assertion as perhaps he should have, boys and girls. But Spot is not a complete idiot, boys and girls, and for some things, his memory is pretty good. Here's the someone that ol' Spotty was referring to:

The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents.

The officials described Col. Pete Devlin's classified assessment of the dire state of Anbar as the first time that a senior U.S. military officer has filed so negative a report from Iraq.

Do you suppose Col. Pete has ever been outside the wire, Dave? Maybe not. Spot just assumed he had been. The article continues:

One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically -- and that's where wars are won and lost."

And here's how Col. Pete is described in the article:

Devlin, as part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) headquarters in Iraq, has been stationed there since February, so his report isn't being dismissed as the stunned assessment of a newly arrived officer. In addition, he has the reputation of being one of the Marine Corps' best intelligence officers, with a tendency to be careful and straightforward, said another Marine intelligence officer. Hence, the report is being taken seriously as it is examined inside the military establishment and also by some CIA officials.

The article linked above is from a September 2006 article in the Washington Post by Thomas Ricks. Not everyone agrees with Col. Pete's assessment, but it cannot be airily dismissed as Dave seeks to do.

One final thing in Dave's comment:

And by the way, Spot, we aren't fighting the Sunni insurgency out here in Anbar. The bulk of the enemy we face here gets their marching orders from a group you may have heard of, their leader is Osama Bin Laden.

In his letter that prompted Spot's post that is linked to above, Dave says that the soldiers in his unit are sometimes dodging munitions made in Iran. With the Sunnis and the Shias at each other's throats in Iraq, Spot finds it strange that Sunni al Qaeda in Sunni Anbar would be supplied it Shia Iran's weapons.

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