Or at least tell the truth. George W. Bush often says that, “I say what I mean and mean what I say.” Last week he said:
Over the past five years, people across the Middle East have bravely defied the car bombers and assassins to show the world that they want to live in liberty.
And the very next day the residents of Dora, a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in Iraq, got the administration’s latest version of liberty:
The American and Iraqi armies on Tuesday, August 15, started building a wall around Al-Dora, a neighborhood in southern Baghdad. Soldiers have erected prefabricated concrete walls in order to “prevent terrorists from entering,” according to the American army.
This will no doubt be as effective in preventing “terrorists from entering,” as building a 700 mile wall along the 1200 mile Mexican, U.S. border will be in stopping illegal immigration. But are they really doing this to keep terrorists out? What happened the day before the wall went up?
August 13th was the day that 57 Iraqis were killed and 145 injured in a series of car bomb and rocket attacks in the Zafaraniyah district, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad. According to Iraqi officials, the rockets were fired from Dora. The next day U.S. military officials insisted that the blasts were caused by a gas main explosion:
Major General William Caldwell…told reporters that American explosives experts believed that a major gas explosion had triggered the blasts. […]
“There is no evidence substantiating that something else was involved. Everything now points out that it was an internal gas explosion that set off a series of other explosions.”
And the day after that the military acknowledged that “car bombs were responsible – at least partly – for the explosions,” not addressing the question of rockets from Dora. And why might that be?
Perhaps because Dora is one of the neighborhoods targeted in phase II of Operation Together Forward, the latest attempt to quell the sectarian violence that is rocking Baghdad. The latest “adapt and win” strategy that has seen some 12,000 U.S. troops redeployed in Baghdad, including the 172nd Stryker Combat Team that had their tours of duty extended to deal with the ongoing violence.
And during the week before the rockets were fired from Dora, the military was reporting that:
Since August 7, during Operation Together Forward, the Currahee Soldiers and INPs worked at least 12-hour days as the security in Baghdad heightened, clearing and searching each home in Al Dora.
The homes in Dora, all 4,284, were completely cleared early Friday morning. They detained 24 people, registered 339 weapons and confiscated 71 weapons.
Completely cleared except for the rockets that killed 57 and wounded 145 people? This seems to be another case of reality and reports from Iraq having nothing to do with each other. In fact, during the same press briefing where Major General Caldwell spoke of gas main explosions, he touted their successes in addressing the violence:
Walking around the city, I counted off in pretty much rapid succession a number of things that gave me good hope. There was a line at the bank of people waiting to cash — to deposit money or to draw money. There was local contractors at work buzzing around in tractors, hauling trash. There were national policemen there all over the area urging their people to move forward and continue on with the elements of the cordon and search. And it was about that time that I probably realized I was in the way of everybody who was trying to get a lot of things accomplished there in Dora.
And apparently during Maj. Gen. Caldwell’s stroll through Dora, all was right with the world. Never mind that Dora has been reported as having:
…seen some of the worst sectarian violence.
…Dora has been virtually lawless since a few months after the US invasion.
zones for nearly everyone except residents too poor to move elsewhere.
Now that the neighborhood has been cleared, people are busy cleaning up, spending money and getting on with their lives…never mind the news reports. Of course reality and the administration’s views on what’s happening in Iraq have never been on the same page. Recently, Tony Snow was asked about partitioning Iraq and he said it “just wasn’t practical.” Apparently that doesn’t go for neighborhoods rocked by sectarian violence. Of course the official White House view on sectarianism isn’t exactly grounded in reality either:
The fact is, Iraqis really — Iraqis look upon themselves not at — at least, in all cases — as Sunni, Shia and Kurd, but as Iraqis, as the descendants of a Mesopotamian civilization that has been around for a very long time. And they see themselves as a nationality, rather than unmeltable ethnic groups. So it’s important to try to go ahead and give them the ability to experience that nation —
Unless you live in Dora, where walls and checkpoints are being erected to “keep out terrorists.” Unfortunately it won’t keep out the Mahdi Army, the Badr Corps or the al-Sahaba Soldiers. You know, all those “descendants of a Mesopotamian civilization.”