Ive found it difficult

November 12, 2003 10:59 p.m.

I’ve found it difficult to write about Iraq for the last few days because, in a sense, there seems little to say. A good part of what I’ve written on the subject in recent months has been intended to challenge the attitude of denial that has characterized so many public pronouncements on the state of the war — the sort of militant up-is-downism, for instance, which was on display when the president said the recent wave of attacks was a sign of how good things were going.

Now, though, that denial (or at least one aspect of it) seems to be evaporating rapidly. And there’s little to push back against. The CIA report on the situation in Iraq, which got so much play on Wednesday after its existence was revealed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, was apparently even more bleak than the article suggested. And if you read the article, you know that’s gotta mean it was pretty damn bleak.

Now, one other point to look at in trying to get a handle on what’s happening here. Both the Guardian and the Times say that Bremer explicitly endorsed the CIA report in order both to underscore the gravity of the situation and signal his agreement with the report’s conclusions. The Guardian drives the point home more explicitly than the Times. But they both seem to be making the same point.

Thus the Guardian …

Although, the report was an internal CIA document it was widely circulated within the administration. Even more unusually, it carried an endorsement by Paul Bremer, the civilian head of the US-run occupation of Iraq – a possible sign that he was seeking to bypass his superiors in the Pentagon and send a message directly to President George Bush on how bad the situation has become.

This brings us back to that the high-level meeting Bremer had with Pentagon officials at the end of last month. As I noted yesterday, at the time I was told that at that meeting Bremer painted an extremely bleak picture of the situation on the ground in the country and signaled great pessimism about the future.

That sounds very similar to what we’re hearing about this CIA report which apparently triggered these high-level meetings over the last two days — the one that brought Bremer rushing back to Washington. Have the unvarnished reports about the true state of affairs on the ground in Iraq not been making their way up to the very highest levels of the government in Washington?

What’s really troubling about the moves we now seem ready to make is that we’re about to launch the wobbly new Iraqi provisional ship of state out into the very same gale force winds that we ourselves have found too difficult to endure.

Masthead Masthead
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