Saturday, September 8, 2007

Some Questions for General Petraeus

Ever since the Surge™ plans rolled off the presses at the American Enterprise Institute and the escalation got underway, any time anyone has brought up withdrawal of troops and drawing down in Iraq, Resident Evil™ and his slavering lackeys have engaged in a stall tactic. “Wait for September.” is the rote refrain. “Wait to hear what General Petraeus has to say.” Well, it's September.

(As if we could count on receiving the unvarnished truth about success on the ground! Ha! I inwardly roll my eyes. I’ve read that op-ed before – right before the last presidential selection, in fact.)

Well, we know he is going to spin and mince and parse and do a soft-soap routine extraordinaire. None the less, when he is in front of the congressional committees, I would dearly love to see him asked to answer the following questions – and for the committees to make him answer them in a forthright manner.

Start at the beginning.

General Petraeus, could you start by defining the mission of the U.S. military in Iraq? How does that correspond with the original grounds for the invasion?

What was the population of Iraq in March 2003? What was the unemployment rate? GNP?

What is the population now? Unemployment rate? GNP?

How many Iraqis have fled the country as refugees? How many people have fled violence in their neighborhoods and home districts, but remain in the country as internally displaced persons? How many internal refugee camps have sprung up in recent months?

Of the population remaining in Iraq, how many would you estimate are actively involved with violence toward other Iraqis? Toward American troops?

Would you provide the names of and background on groups which the U.S. maintains have engaged in violence against Americans?

al Qaeda in Iraq

Of the jihadist/resistance fighters in Iraq, how many claim an affiliation with al Qaeda? How many are members of the main al Qaeda organization, and would take direct orders from ObL? Of those claiming membership in AQI, how many are Iraqis? How many are foreign nationals? Of the foreign nationals, where do they come from? How many jihadist fighters do you estimate come from each of these other nations? How many were loyal to al Qaeda before the United States invaded Iraq? Can you provide names and background information on those claiming to be AQI leadership? Are any of the professed leaders Iraqi? How many? How many people in Iraq professed membership in or allegiance to al Qaeda in March 2003.

The Insurgency

Can you provide the statistics on insurgents by sect? Can you give us this information for each province? Of the insurgents in Iraq today, how many have been active since the invasion? How many have taken up arms since the bombing of the al-Askiri Shrine in February 2006? What provinces have seen attacks committed against American forces since the “Surge™” achieved >50% of the troop buildup. What provinces have been violence free in this time period?

Iraqi Casualties

How does the U.S. count Iraqis killed by gunshots? How are Iraqis killed by explosions counted? How are Iraqis killed by American air strikes counted? Do you feel the slightest pang of conscience when you parse death statistics by whether a victim died execution style, or facing their killer? Do you think that matters to the decedent or their family?

Iraqi Perceptions

How many Iraqis oppose continuing the American military presence in that country? Of Iraqis not engaged in violence against Americans, how many nonetheless do not object to attacks against American forces?

The Missing Millions

How much cash was airlifted to Iraq after the invasion of 2003? We know that at least $110 million went missing from your command in Mosul. What happened to that money, General? How much of that missing money has been used to fund the insurgency, either directly or indirectly?

The Missing Weapons

We know that fully half of American casualties in Iraq are the result of the failure to secure munitions (al Qua Qua) in the early days of the invasion. Were you in any way responsible for the decisions that led to that failure? Who was? Have they faced any accountability?

The GAO estimates that approximately half of all light weapons supplied by American forces to Iraqi military and police forces – 190,000 AK-47’s and handguns – have gone missing. Who got those weapons? Have they been turned against American forces? Used against other Iraqis in sectarian attacks? Used in criminal acts?


How many bridges have been attacked since the troop buildup got underway?

How many hours of electricity does the average Iraqi experience in a day? What was the average before the invasion in March 2003? What was the average temperature in Iraq this August? How do Iraqis cool their homes? How many times has the electrical grid been attacked by insurgents since the start of the escalation? Who is responsible for the security of the grid? How many hours of electricity does your headquarters enjoy per day?

How many Iraqi homes, on average went without water for more than 24 hours during the month of August? What is the status of the water delivery system? How safe is the water to drink, when it is available? Hypothetically: If your family came to visit you in Iraq, would you feel comfortable with them drinking the water?


And then, after a brief restroom break, I would start asking even tougher questions about the status of the Iraqi security forces. And I would segue into the ten and twenty year occupation predictions and projections. But that is me – and I am not a lily-livered poltroon afraid of being perceived as being mean to a poor little helpless four-star general.

(Hat tip to one of the commenters at Political Animal for posting many of these same questions, and many more. Reading that comment, I was able to pull all the disparate strands of outrage together and write a post that passes for cogent.)

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