(cross posted at Media In Trouble
NPR had perhaps one of the <s>finest</s> more decent analyses of the Bullshit Speech (part 1 of 3) which has been plastered all over the fuckin’ airwaves since it aired. The Weekly Standard’s Reuel Marc Gerecht, and The New Yorker’s George Packer faced off with Robert Segel playing the part of moderator. Ok faceoff is not a good description for these NPR segments that are supposed to parrot similar things that would happen on Cable news, but you get the drift.
One of the highlights included an agreement of both Gerecht and Packer on this idea of rather large disparities in the number of Iraqi troops. This number has been historically connected to more caveats than the WMDs Iraq was stockpiling during the last decade.
Packer: Well the number 120 battalions, I think the president used the figure, 212,000 troops. The problem is that number, was given quite a while ago by Sec. Rumsfeld and back then it was obviously an inflated number… Now we are back up to that. I don’t if that is the number or not. The problem is they have lost credibility in those numbers… IOW Earlier numbers were just fantasies, they were numbers thrown out by Paul Bremer and Don Rumsfeld… in order to convince the public that the Iraqi forces were coming on line very quickly. Here we are 2.5 years later, we reach the numbers again, or probably for the first time. They may very well be credible and accurate. The problem is, you can’t cry success so many times … and have the public believe you.
Reuel: I agree with most of that… I think Sec. Rumsfeld and CENTCOM… has done everybody a disservice by floating numbers that have no basis in reality… by this time it seems almost dishonest.
Bob Segel then goes on to hope for a 15% bounce in the Iraq favorability ratings due to this speech. Laughable point on its face, it would have to be a bitch of a speech to do that. Although the wall to wall coverage (as if the speech was Bush’s Gettysburg address) may very well make that number an attainable goal.
But the numbers. What are the numbers?
You have Reuel Gerecht, a run of the mill wingnut who would rather have someone give him a Dirty Sanchez than admit to failure by the President, using VLWC terms like “no basis in reality” and “dishonest” when describing Rumsfeld and CENTCOM’s accounting failures. Information regarding the training of Iraqi forces is second only to “reasons for going to war” in terms of consistency. If their aim was to baffle and confuse congratulations. Mission accomplished, stage another flight suit photo op. How can anyone believe a word out of Rumsfeld or anyone’s mouth when it comes to Iraqi Forces at the ready?
This is a major fucking problem. All the folks who want to stay in Iraq for some extended period of time (until election day 2006 when they can pose with guys getting off ships for campaign posters), are saying that the number of US troops capable of being withdrawn is inversely proportional to the Iraqi Forces that are trained.
We can’t trust Rumsfeld, or Bush, or anyone’s numbers regarding Iraqi Forces since they have been consistently fluctuating from 1 battalion only 2 months ago to 120 battalions yesterday. Rumsfeld said that there were 95 brigades as of yesterday, whereas in August there were only 5.
So once again, if these guys cannot be trusted to give us solid numbers honestly for 2 years, what makes anyone think they will start spitting truthballs Steven Colbert style anytime soon? While we are at it, who in the brave intrepid media will start asking the really tough question. If you could go from 5 to 95 brigades in only 3 months, and can go from 1 battalion to 120 in only 2 months, why can’t you give us a firm projection of when we will have enough Iraqi forces ready to withdraw the US troops? Or even better, have one of the folks from the Barbisol school of retired Generals to do the analysis themselves and give us a decent estimate.
A good follow up question would be… “If it only took 3 months to get so many Iraqi troops trained, WHAT THE FUCK TOOK SO DAMNED LONG IN THE FIRST PLACE!!?!?! Why did you wait for 2 years to get this ball rolling, and if you knew it would take such a short time, why didn’t you start doing it right after the looting took place?
If the entire definition of “Victory in Iraq” is largely hinged upon the amount of Iraqi forces, how can we gauge Victory when the data going into the Victory meter is as Reuel Gerecht said “dishonest, and without basis in reality?”