From the Washington Post:
Top Pentagon officials yesterday acknowledged a recent jump in insurgent violence in Iraq but described the escalation as nowhere near the peak levels of the past year and disputed suggestions that it represents a lack of progress.
At a news conference, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the level of attacks is about the same as it was a year ago, with the insurgency retaining the ability to surge.
As Juan Cole noted, last year was April 2004, the most active month previously of the insurgency. This makes Myers assertion palpably dishonest.
It is still like that? On NPR, I heard Rumsfeld try to suggest that things are pretty good in Iraq, given that the US forces have for the most part stopped even engaging the guerrillas and have turned to training Iraqi forces instead. He said what? The US troops probably can't carry out any big missions against the guerrillas, because the new Iraqi government would not put up with another Fallujah-type operation. So apparently they are just fighting a holding action while Gen. Petraeus frantically tries to stand up an Iraqi army (which would probably take at least 5 years). If Myers and Rumsfeld were trying to reassure us, they dismally failed, at least in my case.
Meanwhile, Reuters tells us that the "C" word (and we are not talking the "Deadwood" C-word...unless we are talking the Bush Administration) is being used in Iraq with frequency, as opposed to its former taboo state:
Yet now, with no government formed three months after elections, and tensions deepening between Iraq’s Muslim sects and other groups, it’s on many people’s minds. Several clashes between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in events apparently unrelated to the two-year-old anti-US insurgency have highlighted the danger in recent months.
Whereas once politicians were not willing to utter the term for fear of dignifying it, it is no longer taboo. “I do not want to say civil war, but we are going the Lebanese route, and we know where that led,” says Sabah Kadhim, an adviser to the Interior Ministry who spent years in exile before returning to Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. “We are going to end up with certain areas that are controlled by certain warlords ... It’s Sunni versus Shiite, that is the issue that is really in the ascendancy right now, and that wasn’t the case right after the elections.”