Wednesday, September 12, 2007

General Petraeus Goes To Washington II, Iraq Does Not Equal 9-11, Afghan Hearts & Minds, Pakistan Problem, And Raw Politics (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. We're kicking off live from Iraq again, with Anderson Cooper still at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Anderson tells us that the base just got mortared a few hours ago and a non American soldier was killed. So, on that cheerful, and not at all anxiety-producing note, let's begin. We learn that our lovely president will be messing with our tv watching on Thursday when he announces a draw down of troops next year to pre-surge levels. Anderson's knocking down this PR move immediately: "...more a case of raw necessity, however, than operational choice."

This moves us into a Tom Foreman "Keeping Them Honest" piece on Petraeus' testimony-day two. It's time for some fact checking. Petraeus says Al Anbar is much safer, but what he doesn't say is that's mostly due to al Qaeda angering the Sunnis enough that they're fighting back. Petraeus says the surge is helping suppress ethnic violence, but what he doesn't say is that millions of Iraqis have fled the country and millions more have pretty much segregated themselves. Petraeus says the Iraqis are getting closer to taking over security, but what he doesn't say is they still need very critical support from the Americans. So, yeah, it seems what Petraeus isn't saying might actually be more important that what he is saying.

On now to some discussion with Michael Ware and John King. Like last night, Anderson and Michael reiterate that Bush's big tv speech is going to be much ado about nothing because bringing home the surge troops after a year had been the plan all along. Anderson then notes that the White House has been going batty about the Petraeus "report" for months and we were all promised a real discussion about Iraq, but now he wonders if this wasn't all in the cards from the get go. Oh, and he uses the words "political theater," which is sort of awesome. John explains that basically the main thing the White House wanted out of this was control of the war, and it looks like they might get it because the Democrats are still short votes to force a time line. Let's all take a moment to ponder the total lack of morality in what John is telling us. To be clear here, I think it's become pretty apparent this White House is just buying time until they're out of office. And meanwhile, people die.

Anderson notes that Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker see hopeful signs for political progress in Iraq and wonders if Michael sees those too. Michael does not. Well . . . crap. He then proceeds to bum me out further by going through why this isn't going to work. Anderson says he's been talking with some Sunnis that seem to be willing to work with the government and he wants to know if they might be lying. Michael reminds us that one needs to be careful in believing Iraqis when they're surrounded by soldiers. He tells us that the Sunnis are very anti-Iranian and therefore, no, they don't want to work with the government. Anderson then plays a clip from Obama, who is angered about these hearings being held on the anniversary of 9-11, thus making it seem like the two are related (yeah, what the hell?). Anderson wonders who was responsible for the timing. John then weirdly blames it on the Democrats because they weren't paying attention. Wait, what? Basically what he's saying is they could have stopped it from happening this way, but they didn't. Um, John? Scheduling a hearing and not stopping a hearing from being scheduled are not the exact same thing.

Moving on to a John King piece on how Iraq is not the same thing as 9-11. Not connected! So hey, 30-some-odd percent of the country that still believes that, are you hearing this? In fact, al Qaeda in Iraq didn't even exist before we invaded. So, um, yay us? Anyway, though frustrating, it's easy to see how some people could be confused. After all, the White House has been conflating the two for years now. And hey, look, 360 is very helpfully pulling a "Daily Show" and actually playing us a bunch of clips from the past. They're missing a few good ones (I've got them on file in my brain, baby!), but still, nice job. Do that more often, please.

Next we have an Anderson piece on how the Anbar model is spreading to southern Baghdad. It seems the Sunnis are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore when it comes to al Qaeda killing their people. Now the US military is paying local sheiks to provide security and the hope is one day these volunteers can join the Iraq police - if, of course, the Shia-lead government will go for it. I'm guessing that's a big "if," but hey, one can hope.

Moving on to a Nic Robertson piece on how the military is not hunting Bin Laden in Afghanistan. It's not as bad as it sounds. Basically instead of being hunt-em-down police, the military has decided to maybe try some of that nation building, that thing that Nic notes, "President Bush once thought unnecessary." Good idea and all, but one wonders how many hearts and minds got away from them over all this time.

Transitioning now to a Peter Bergen piece on Pakistan. Okay, so it works like this: we heart Pakistan. Pakistan hearts bin Laden. We hate bin Laden. Pakistan hates us. Hmm. In Peter's piece we learn that Pervez Musharraf only has a 38% approval rating in Pakistan, compared to bin Laden's 46%. And Bush? Nine percent. I'm sorry, I know this is super serious and horrible and everything, but that totally made me laugh. Nine percent. Good Lord. The dirty little secret about Pakistan is they're the proud owners of some pesky nuclear weapons, so if we were to go all Bush Doctrine on their asses and put pressure on Musharraf, well, with his low support in his own country (and extremists just waiting to push him over), there's a chance things could get explodey. So, uh, let's not.

Next up we have a Gary Tuchman piece coming at us from an airbase in [insert Mideast country here]. They've got to keep their exact location on the down low. Gary then spends some time talking with soldiers that are both coming to, and leaving, Iraq. We meet Sergeant Juan Rivera who has been there three times and believes he'll see a fourth. Gary asks him how that makes him feel and as Juan is mulling that over, Gary adds the word, "honestly." Heh, well, that's the hard part, isn't it? I don't think any of these guys (and girls) are able to truly speak freely. If any of them have any opinions, they're not going to say it, for many reasons. And I don't blame them. For the record, Rivera's answer is, "It's just hard." Oh, and also? Gary notes that, "This war has now been going on for four and a half years. The youngest soldiers on this plane were in junior high school when it began." How's that for boggling your mind?

We've got "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman bringing up the rear tonight. It turns out that people are not happy with this war. Hmm. Who'd-a-thunk it? We also learn that Clinton is still very much the front runner for the democrats, while the newly-announced Fred Thompson, is stealing some of Rudy "9-11" Giuliani's thunder. But, if you'll allow me to play the role of The Gerg for a moment here, I think people still don't know enough about Thompson to call this new development significant. Political analysis is just another service we do here at AC360 Review. The Shot tonight is a live shot of the tribute in light commemorating 9-11. Six years. And still its fallout is with us every day. A-


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