Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Significant Progress" in Iraq

Came across an interesting post at the Salon War room on the use of the phrase " significant progress" in Iraq. Also posted by Steve Beren at Crooks and

Since it is about two paragraphs and some lines here it is in toto:

About that "significant progress"

This morning, speaking from the White House, the president boasted, "American and Iraqi forces have made significant progress" in Iraq. It got me thinking, haven't we heard that phrase before in relation to the war?
White House press secretary Scott McClellan on Oct. 27, 2003: "In the north and south [of Iraq], we have made significant progress."

President Bush on Nov. 13, 2004: "Fighting together, our forces [in Iraq] have made significant progress in the last several days."
President Bush on June 28, 2005: "In the past year, we have made significant progress [in Iraq]."
Vice President Cheney on Oct. 19, 2006: "We've made significant progress [in Iraq]."
President Bush on Feb. 23, 2007: "I think we have made significant progress in Iraq."

Indeed, it's a phrase the White House has used to describe events in Iraq several hundred times over the past five years. I can't imagine why anyone would be skeptical about the claim now.

And at this point am adding a few more examples drawn from Google:

"McCLELLAN: There are two democratically-elected governments now in Iraq and ..... We have made significant progress in the first four months or so of this ... May 25, 2005

"McClellan: And we're making significant progress on the five-point plan that the President outlined for success in Iraq. You have a sovereign government, you have an interim leader in Prime Minister Allawi who is strong and determined to complete the mission in Iraq. He is coming to the United States to talk about the progress that has been made.- September 20, 2004

"Bush: We're seeing significant progress from our new strategy in Anbar province, as well. - May 2, 2007

"Cheney: We're making significant progress. The Iraqis have put together their government . - June 15, 2006

McClellan: And we are also coming up on some important milestones and events in Iraq. One, on June 28th, that's going to mark the one-year anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people. And in that one-year period, there has been significant progress on the political front. - June 16, 2005

It goes on and on like this. If you just use the keywords significant progress Iraq, you get 829 hits.

Interesting because if there had been that much significant progress in Iraq since 2003, why must troop levels remain the same until 2009?

To paraphrase James Thurber," Your World and welcome to it".

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Continuing struggle in Tibet

Well, apparently the demonstrations continue to go on in Tibet. Just found this over at Google News from the Times Online:
"Tibetans wounded as Chinese police fire on pilgrim protest "

"Ten people were wounded when Chinese paramilitary police opened fire on a crowd of Tibetans protesting against limits on a prayer ceremony and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama, witnesses said.
The violence was in a remote town in western Sichuan province on Saturday, where monks at the Lingque temple had been joined by several hundred pilgrims for an annual ceremony, the Torgya, which is meant to exorcise evil elements from society.

One witness said that the police appeared to grow anxious about the size of the crowd in a region of China where there have been demonstrations since protesters stabbed and stoned ethnic Han Chinese in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, on March 14.

At about midday security forces ordered a halt to the ceremony but the demonstrators, including about 400 nomads, refused to leave. The crowd included monks, residents, students and even civil servants, who wore dust masks over their mouths as a rudimentary means to conceal their identity, one witness said" - Tibet: Chinese police wound 10 demonstrators at Lingque temple 3694762 - 4/7/08

Then Time magazine has a very interesting article this week that looks at how continual protests, especially along the Olympic torch route, are going to burn the Chinese leadership, and their totally unflexible response to it:

"China is dealing with visible and invisible opposition in the months before the Beijing Olympics begin. The visible was front-and-center in the world media as the OIympic torch made its way through various countries on a circuitous route to the Games. Everywhere Chinese security is on guard against activists prepared to disrupt the flame's progress to protest China's human rights record in Tibet and in the enormous province of Xinjiang. In London, a protester tried to grab the flame away from its official bearer; at one point, the torch had to make its way through the city within the protective confines of a bus. Earlier, when the flame traveled through Istanbul, Turkish police arrested a man who made a move toward the torchbearer.

But it is the invisible opposition, what Beijing prevents the rest of the world from seeing, that elicits the most concern. Recent reports indicate that sporadic violence in Tibet continues despite a massive Chinese military crackdown that has now lasted almost three weeks. According to Tibetan exiles and activist groups, Chinese police on April 3 fired on monks from the Tongkor monastery in Ganzi, Sichuan Province, killing an unknown number. China's official Xinhua News Agency confirmed that disturbances had taken place but did not report any deaths. Meanwhile, in what is certainly a deeply worrying development for Beijing, the unrest has spread to other ethnic minority areas, the Chinese authorities confirmed, this time in the far western Muslim-dominated province of Xinjiang. As usual, accounts of what happened by overseas activists and the Chinese authorities were poles apart. But there is no doubt that significant unrest over Chinese rule has occurred in Xinjiang involving hundreds and possibly thousands of protesters. There have also been round ups by security forces in which scores have been detained.

The puzzle is what are the Communist Party cadres in Beijing feeling as they watch these events unfold ? Anger certainly. And worry about how the staging of the Olympic Games in August could be affected. But by all accounts, they have also been surprised, shocked at how resentment over Chinese rule has suddenly exploded, threatening to spoil what was supposed to be a positive, peaceful run-up to the Games.

The article concludes:

" The authorities will no doubt make it virtually impossible for journalists to enter Tibet in the months leading up to the Olympics. But it remains unclear exactly how they intend to deal with the estimated 30,000 foreign reporters expected to witness the event, all of them eager to take advantage of Beijing's own regulations specifying that they can interview anyone Chinese who agrees to talk. "They still don't have any idea what is going to hit them or how bad they will look to the outside world," comments one senior Western academic who has close ties to the upper echelons of the Beijing establishment. If its conduct over the past year is anything to go by, Beijing's instinctive reaction to new problems will be to use its heavy hand once more."

for further see: Will the Olympic Torch Burn China?