shiny.jpgPotemkin market efforts aside, what we are seeing in the media is a whole lot of shiny objects.  Hilzoy says not to be fooled (H/T to wigwam for the link):

So where does that leave us? We know our presence in Iraq cannot be sustained at surge levels past April, and it probably can’t be sustained at pre-surge levels much longer either. We are either going to leave or to draw down our troops substantially. Any military progress that will not survive our departure is a temporary fix. If the Iraqi government took advantage of the surge to pursue serious political reconciliation, they might use the opportunity to make lasting improvements. But they show no signs of doing so; it’s not even clear that they want to.

Under the circumstances, then, I assume that General Petraeus will report military progress. It would be surprising if he didn’t: after all, our army does a good job, and it would be odd if tens of thousands of additional troops had no effect at all. But it’s meaningless without political reconciliation. And there is no political reconciliation in sight.  (emphasis mine)

Juan Cole has even more.  The facts on the ground are what they are. The GAO report has been validated by Bush’s own State Department, and no amount of public spin and tap dancing changes the basic facts: our troops are exhausted, and we don’t have a helluva lot more give in the system.  And, PR lies sales pitch aside, the Bush Administration knows it.

…Despite the plan, which has brought an additional 28,500 U.S. troops to Iraq since February, none of the major legislation that Washington had expected the Iraqi parliament to pass into law has been approved.

The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has increased, not decreased, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration and Iraq’s Ministry for Displacement and Migration.

Military officials say sectarian killings in Baghdad are down more than 51% and attacks on civilians and security forces across Iraq have decreased. But this has not translated into a substantial drop in civilian deaths as insurgents take their lethal trade to more remote regions. Last month, as many as 400 people were killed in a bombing in a village near the Syrian border, the worst bombing since the war began in March 2003. In July, 150 people were reported killed in a village about 100 miles north of Baghdad.

And in a sign that tamping down Sunni-Shiite violence is no guarantee of stability, a feud between rival Shiite Muslim militias has killed scores of Iraqis in recent months. Last week, at least 52 people died in militia clashes in the Shiite holy city of Karbala.

At best, analysts, military officers and ordinary Iraqis portray the country as in a holding pattern, dependent on U.S. troops to keep the lid on violence.

“The military offensive has temporarily suppressed, or in many cases dislocated, armed groups,” said Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group. “Once the military surge peters out, which it will if there is no progress on the political front, these groups will pop right back up and start going at each other’s, and civilians’, throats again.”…

The occupation of Iraq has been mismanged from the start – a start that should never have occurred and piss poor planning that has never been remedied. It is political chaos writ whack-a-mole. Who is to blame for these many failures?  George Bush.

Do not be distracted by the many shiny objects to be rolled out in the days to come.  Accountabilty needs to start on George Bush’s doorstep.

(Photo of shiny objects via BrittneyBush.)