Pres Bush today spoke at the Pentagon and gave a rosy assessment of what's now America's third longest war. Bush also cautioned against a rapid withdrawal from Iraq, saying there is still work to be done. (You heard those comments from Bush about Iraqis reclaiming their country now. How consistent are those thoughts with what you've seen on the ground in Iraq?) We're reclaiming the neighborhoods of Baghdad, which are now controlled by militias. The surge is a temporary solution, you've paid militiamen and insurgents to control their neighborhoods, and there is still hate between one neighborhood and the next. (So can a Sunni not walk into a Shia area still?) Definitely not. Each person thinks the limit of their neighborhood is as far as one can go. The state of civil war five years after the invasion is wide and big. To talk about the success of the surge is deceiving. The reality is so different. (How is the American public being deceived?) by measuring progress in Iraq by the numbers of deaths and those killed. When I'm traveling between Baghdad, I need to change a lot of things, my accent, words I use, my ID cards, etc. if you're a black scarf, you're a Shia, a red one is a Sunni. If you have rings on your hand, you're probably a Shia. But there aren't even strict lines to this. (You write about one Sunni man who's now working on one of these Awakening Council, and would supposedly be a success story). But he's not because he's been paid by the Americans. He changes alliances because of the money and American protection, not because of beliefs. No one likes Al Qaeda, so Iraqis gave up on Al Qaeda, but all of these ï¿½awakened insurgentsï¿½ believe they're just regrouping to then reclaim lost land from the Shias. (Are things better or worse than one or two years ago in Iraq?) I can't speak on this. The reality today is Iraq is divided, there's civil war, there's no services, so it's tough to say.
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