Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ware's Straight Talk

When you see his boxer's nose and direct no-nonsense stare at the camera, you stop to listen to his Australian "mate"-accented rapid-fire delivery as he reports his blunt assessments.... because you know you're going to hear from CNN correspondent Michael Ware the real facts on the ground from the only correspondent who has been in Baghdad since before the the U.S. invasion.

He knows the score, and seldom agrees with the White House version of events.

On the civil war in Iraq.
When the Bush administration bristled at the Iraq war being called a civil war, Ware pounced... "'s easier to deny that this is a civil war, when essentially you live in the most heavily fortified place in the country within the Green Zone, which is true of both the prime minister, the national security adviser for Iraq and, of course, the top U.S. military commanders.

"However, for the people living on the streets, for Iraqis in their homes, if this is not civil war, or a form of it, then they do not want to see what one really looks like."

On Sen. John McCain's statement that Americans could "go into some Baghdad neighborhoods in a secure fashion."
Upon hearing McCain's boast, Ware lamented on the loss of McCain's credibility and challenged.... "To suggest that there's any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous. I'd love Senator McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll."

On the effectiveness of the U.S. troop "surge."
When asked if the Bush administration claim that the escalation of troops had an impact on sectarian violence in Iraq, Ware scoffed.... "No, not really. It's forced [al-Qaeda] to displace.... So deaths are down because it's much harder to kill each other until the Americans withdraw and the real battle begins."

And, yesterday when CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked him about the "big picture" regarding the disintegrating government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Ware put the rose-colored-glasses claims of the Bush administration in their proper perspective:

"Well, Wolf, I mean, really, there's never been an Iraqi government. I mean, it's never been a so-called entity. It's been an apparition from the beginning, a loose coalition of militias, most of them according to western intelligence, backed by Iran, jammed together. So really, there's never been a functioning government there."

And, Ware's gritty assessment of the consequences of the action that Sen. Warner (R-VA) and others are suggesting, to start a drawdown of American troops (you're not going to want to hear this):

"I'm sorry, but with all respect to Senator Warner, he is absolutely kidding himself. If... withdrawing 5,000 troops is going to send any kind of a message.... the strongest message that would send is an American defeat.

"And if you want a clear-cut example of both the power of that message, and what happens on the ground, just look at Basra in the south. The Brits have all but been forced to abandon Basra. What's happened? Rival sparring, brawling, Iranian-backed militias have taken over and it's turning into an absolute disaster. That's a glimmer of Iraq's future without American forces."

The only response one can make to this jarring no-win reality-check is the one given by Blitzer, "Pretty depressing information."

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