Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bush's Petraeus PR Gambit Not Making it on Main Street

According to a USA Today/Gallup poll released today, more people view the Iraq war as a mistake since General Petraeus reported to Congress that everything is A-OK in Iraq and since Bush announced plans for a long-term occupation of Iraq and pretended as though everything in Iraq is fine.

Petraeus also failed to convince people that staying the course in Iraq is the right thing to do.

Additionally, with statistically irrelevant shifts, about the same number of people view the surge, the main subject of the Bush PR campaign of last week, as having little or negative effects.

What Bush ignored is that the occupation is the main source of sectarian conflict and that a humanitarian crisis already exists in Iraq. According to various UN organizations, humanitarian groups, and media reports:

* 8 million Iraqis require emergency aid
* About one-fourth of Iraqi children are malnourished
* 5 million Iraqis depend on the country's food rationing system; only 3 million have reliable access to it
* 3 to 4 million Iraqis are internally or internationally displaced
* 80% of Iraqis lack effective sanitation
* 70% lack sanitary water
* 50% unemployment
* 12,000 doctors have left Iraq due to the violence

But Bush's PR campaign wasn't really about convincing Americans that the war is going fine. It was about strong-arming Republicans in Congress to not vote with Democrats who want to change course or set a timetable for bringing the troops home.

That goal may have been achieved. And with it, Bush just may have convinced a bunch of Republicans to toe the line at the expense of their jobs in the 2008 elections. No wonder so many of them are retiring these days.

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