Friday, December 02, 2005

What's in a Number?

This week, yet another disturbing article has appeared in the MSM via AP reporter William J. Kole. I think this article deserves a fisking, so here goes!
Two U.S. Allies Pulling Out of Iraq
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Two of America's allies in Iraq are withdrawing forces this month and a half-dozen others are debating possible pullouts or reductions, increasing pressure on Washington as calls mount to bring home U.S. troops.

Bulgaria and Ukraine will begin withdrawing their combined 1,250 troops by mid-December. If Australia, Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland and South Korea reduce or recall their personnel, more than half of the non-American forces in Iraq could be gone by next summer.
This is really not a story at all. According to Global Security (July 1, 2005) Bulgaria was scheduled to remove their troops by end of year 2005, and Ukraine by October, 2005. So rather than this being a "sudden" decision to pull out as would be implied by the blaring headline, Bulgaria and the Ukraine are departing just exactly as planned.
Japan and South Korea help with reconstruction, but Britain and Australia provide substantial support forces and Italy and Poland train Iraqi troops and police. Their exodus would deal a blow to American efforts to prepare Iraqis to take over the most dangerous peacekeeping tasks and craft an eventual U.S. exit strategy.

"The vibrations of unease from within the United States clearly have an impact on public opinion elsewhere," said Terence Taylor of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington. "Public opinion in many of these countries is heavily divided."
At this point Japan has intentions to remain in Iraq through 2006, and South Korea is scheduled to bring home 1/3 of their troops in the first half of 2006, but to extend their overall deployment for at least another 12 months, Britain and Australia currently have no plans to withdraw - they've committed at this point to seeing the operation through to it's completion. Not quite the dire picture painted.
In the months after the March 2003 invasion, the multinational force numbered about 300,000 soldiers from 38 countries - 250,000 from the U.S. and 50,000 from other countries. The coalition has steadily unraveled as the death toll rises and angry publics clamor for troops to leave.

Now the nearly 160,000-member U.S. force in Iraq is supported by just under 24,000 mostly non-combat personnel from 27 countries. Britain has the second-largest contingent with 8,000 in Iraq and 2,000 elsewhere in the Gulf region.
The "logic" that the coalition has unraveled is astounding. By his own writing, we determine that down from 300,000 soldiers from 38 countries, we now have about 184,000 from 27 countries. But what must be recalled is that we are now in the reconstruction stage - not the initial phase of the war, and while non-US troops have fallen to about 48% of their initial levels, US troop involvement has also decreased to about 53%. Hmmm. So, yes, perhaps some (remember Spain, anyone?) decided that the public outcry against the war was too much of a political problem and necessitated their withdrawal, but overall, levels are probably what should be expected.
In his strategy for Iraq, announced Wednesday, President Bush said expanding international support was one of his goals. He also seemed to address the issue of more allies withdrawing.

"As our posture changes over time, so too will the posture of our coalition partners," the document says. "We and the Iraqis must work with them to coordinate our efforts, helping Iraq to consolidate and secure its gains on many different fronts."
Kinda fits with my summation, don'tcha think?

There's more to the article, but most of it I've pretty much covered - it's just the same old spin, different day. But far more interesting to me is this:
Iraq Seeks to Stop Foreign Withdrawal Plans
The Interim Iraqi government seeks to convince several countries not to withdraw their forces from Iraq after these countries announced plans to this end.

The Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiar Zeibari urged Japan to keep its forces in southern Iraq, saying that early withdrawal of what he called the coalition forces will lead to more violence.
Golly. According to the other sources I read, we are "occupiers". We're not wanted. Go home. Go away. Yet, here I find that the interim Iraqi government is asking us to stand our ground and help them to achieve their goal. Amazing. Unless you've been reading the writings of some of my friends here, here & here.

Rome wasn't built in a day, Saddam had 35 years in power in Iraq, our own U. S. Constitution took 2 and a half years to become ratified by the then 13 states - and that doesn't include the years in the making - all the debates and infighting to get it to that point. Yes, the Iraqi's will have to take over at some point, and it's in the works - but all this nay-saying and negativity in the press is only serving to give aid and comfort to the enemy. Numbers and statistics can be skewed to be read however the writer wishes them to be read - so I say, don't trust 'em, folks! Question EVERYTHING.

Open post linked at The Conservative Cat

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