An excercise folks. A flexing of muscle to coinside with the muscular speeches given by the President this week. And here is the irony it was all made for the 24/7 TV news networks.
As Time magazine reported, though they own CNN which played right into the Defense Department/Pentagon PR campaign,
But contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op.
Meanwhile with all the photo op material provided by the Pentagon, no media were allowed on this secret mission, it still was part of the attempt by the US to pretend its Iraqi puppet army was ready to deal with security. Which of course it isn't.
In fact this whole operation has managed to further upset the Sunni's and provide further fuel for political sectarian differences, and all they got out of it was peoples personal weapons. So much for defending the Second amendment.
One leading Sunni Arab, Iraqi presidential security adviser Wafiq al-Samaraie, urged that the operation ease restrictions on traffic across Samarra's vital Tigris River bridge, and cease "disarming the people of Samarra of their own authorized weapons."
But the US has to start pulling out troops this year, as the Brits have already begun. That was their timetable all along. However as much as the US has pushed for a government and army in Iraq that could take over based on this timetable, to extract troops prior to the November elections in the US, the Iraqi's have failed to live up to US expectations.
This excercise was a fake, it was nothing more than a regular police action, in order to distract from the serious failure of the US military and political strategy in Iraq. Three years after "Mission Accomplished".
Now, as the conflict enters its fourth year, the Bush administration faces a new challenge: the prospect of civil war. And, in response, officials appear to be redefining success downward again. If Iraq can avoid all-out civil war, they say, if Baghdad's new security forces can hold together, if Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds all participate in a new unity government, that may be enough to allow the administration to begin reducing the number of U.S. troops in the country by the second half of this year.
In increasingly sober public statements — and in slightly more candid assessments in interviews with officials who refused to be identified — administration officials are working to lower expectations.
"It may seem difficult at times to understand how we can say that progress is being made," President Bush said in his weekly radio address Saturday, acknowledging that much of the recent news from Iraq has been bad. "But . . . slowly but surely, our strategy is getting results."
"We may fail," warned a senior official directly involved in Iraq policy. "But I think we're going to succeed. I think we're going to nudge this ball down the road. . . . It's not going to be easy, and it's going to take time."
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