There is an extremely disturbing item in the current USAID report on Iraq, considering (a) the venue - the principal official reporting vehicle on the Iraq War - and (b) the source - General Odierno, the second-in-command in Iraq and the iron fist to General Petraeus' velvet glove. It is worth quoting in full (remember this is in the official State Department report):
Shiite-Led Government Larger Threat than al-Qaida:
- Senior military commanders now portray the intransigence of Iraq's Shiite dominated government as the key threat facing the U.S. effort in Iraq, rather than al-Qaida terrorists, Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias. Several U.S. military officials have expressed growing concern over the Iraqi government's failure to capitalize on sharp declines in attacks against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. A window of opportunity has opened for the government to reach out to its former foes, said Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the commander of day-to-day U.S. military operations in Iraq, but "it's unclear how long that window is going to be open."
Is it possible that we have now returned to where we were in the spring of 2003 - that the military has done all it can and now needs an effective civilian strategy under which to move forward?
Even those of us who support the Administration's objectives in Iraq, who admire the steady nerves of President Bush in adversity, and feel vindicated by President Bush's reorganization of the command of the war last year, equivalent to Lincoln's selecting Ulysses Grant to be General-in-Chief of the Civil War, have to admit that there has been a strange detachment of this Administration from the execution of its strategy, going all the way back to 2003.
Yes, we are here and the war is over there and there are many things that we cannot know. But, how is it possible that if electricity is, as we are told, critical to the well-being of the public in iraq and that well-being is critical to the success of our efforts, that after 4 years!! we are still only barely above the pre-war generating level. What has been done, is being done, about this problem? About water? About sewer?
Yes, these problems have been in the debate all this time, but now General Odierno is sending up a distress flare - we still are not getting the mission done.
As citizens, we must ask the Administration what is going on? If we made mistakes in the early part of the war, we are now in the fifth year. Is nobody in the White House sweating the details? Forget the reputation of the Bush Administration, the fate of the Nation is involved here.
President Bush, let's get a move on!