Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Too quiet...

The mainstream media has, in one corner at least, noticed the lessening of violence in Baghdad that has followed Bush's "surge" but, from reading Time magazine, you'd almost think that was a bad thing:

The silence is eerie. After opening the U.S. Army's first combat outpost (COP) in Baghdad last month the men of Charlie Company, 2-12 Cavalry, had gotten used to gunfights raging nearby, the crack of bullets passing overhead, and the explosion of rocket-propelled grenades. After all, this was Ghazaliyah, where Sunni insurgents and Shi'a militiamen have battled each other, the Iraqi army and police, and the Americans for months.

In the past week, though, the men have been unnerved by absence of the sounds of war. "It's been quiet — really, really, quiet," said Sgt. Sergej Michaud, 24. Michaud has cropped his dark hair nearly to the scalp, and he has a tattoo of a helmeted skull on his left forearm with TANKER printed below. Like many other soldiers at the COP he relishes the chance to drive towards gunfire and separate the combatants in Iraq's sectarian war. That was routine for his platoon until a few days ago, when the violence suddenly dropped almost to nothing. One soldier said he used to doze off at night by imagining the gunfire was the sound of rain on a tin roof. Now the nights are virtually silent. That's unusual for any Baghdad neighborhood, and eerie for a notoriously violent place like Ghazaliyah. Gunfights with insurgents and militiamen worry Sgt. Michaud less than figuring out where those enemies have gone. "I have no idea," he said. "It's kind of scary. It's kind of scary."
As I pointed out a few days ago, the "surge" has started well. A few stats:
murders in Baghdad are down 70%, attacks are down 80%, Mahdi Army chief Moqtada al-Sadr has reportedly made off for Iran, and many Baghdadis who had fled the violence now feel it's safe enough to return. The strategy that Congress is busy denouncing is proving to be our best hope for victory.
Try googling "bush surge doomed" to see how insane the reportage has become.

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