Monday, January 15, 2007


To judge from an interview he just gave to ABC News, the new top commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, has about as keen a grasp on reality as his boss:

... Odierno said that al-Sadr is not a focal point of the joint Iraqi-American effort to target sectarian extremists. "Bottom line is Moqtada al-Sadr is part of the political process. He is head of a political party." At the same time, Odierno warned that the United States could treat him differently if "he moves away from the political framework and starts participating in extremist activities, then we will deal with him as warranted."

Yeah, that's right -- if. In the unlikely event that he, y'know, starts doing bad things, we're not gonna take that crap for a minute.

The mind reels.

As Steve Coll points out in this week's New Yorker, this isn't the first time Odierno's said such things:

...He also has a record of either misreading the war or glossing over its difficulties. Odierno said in the summer of 2003 that the Sunnis were "not close to guerrilla warfare" and that the enemy had no will to fight. Early in 2004, he declared at a news conference that the insurgents he was facing were a "fractured, sporadic threat" who had been reduced to just a "handful of cells." He said, "We see constant improvement. And so it is getting better."

No wonder Bush gave him the gig.

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