I wasn't expecting Joe Lieberman to proclaim "progress" for the first time for the sixth time for another month or two.
He's in the Washington Post today.
It's apparently a date which will life in Inanity, April 26, 2007, the day when the Washington Post Editorial Page finally surpassed the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page.
In the two months since Petraeus took command, the United States and its Iraqi allies have made encouraging progress on two problems that once seemed intractable: tamping down the Shiite-led sectarian violence that paralyzed Baghdad until recently and consolidating support from Iraqi Sunnis -- particularly in Anbar, a province dismissed just a few months ago as hopelessly mired in insurgency.
Of course, there's that intrusion of reality per McClatchy (the one news bureau that has, you know, been right all along..
Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn't include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims...
... There are no authoritative statistics on Iraqi civilian casualties. The Iraq Study Group in its report last year found that the Pentagon routinely underreports violence. Other groups have criticized the Iraqi government's statistics as unreliable - a moot point since the government recently stopped releasing comprehensive totals. On Wednesday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq chastised the Iraqi government for withholding statistics on sectarian violence.
One study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health and Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, estimated that 78,000 Iraqis were killed by car bombings between March 2003 and June 2006.
Iraq Body Count, which keeps statistics based on news reports, finds that there have been just over 1,050 car bombs that have killed more than one person since August 2003, when a car bomb detonated in front of what was the United Nations headquarters, killing 17.
McClatchy gathers its statistics daily from police contacts, and while they're not comprehensive, they're collected the same way every day.
And then there is the Lieberman of the Past:
December 29, 2006:
The addition of more troops must be linked to a comprehensive new military, political and economic strategy that provides security for the population so that training of Iraqi troops and the development of a democratic government can move forward.
In particular we must provide the vital breathing space for moderate Shiites and Sunnis to turn back the radicals in their communities. There are Iraqi political leaders who understand their responsibility to do this. In Anbar province we have made encouraging progress in winning over local Sunni tribal leaders in the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorists. With more troops to support them, our forces in Anbar and their Sunni allies can achieve a major victory over al-Qaeda.
And then there was:
July 25, 2006:
U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman believes the U.S. will withdraw a "solid' contingent of its military forces in Iraq by the end of the year because of gains made by the Iraqi armed forces.
"There really has been progress made by the Iraqi military," Lieberman said Tuesday during a meeting with the Connecticut Post's editorial board. "Two-thirds of it could stand on its own or lead the fight with our logistical support."
The three-term U.S. senator said he believes a complete withdrawal is possible by late 2007 or early 2008.
But that's not all...
November 29, 2005:
Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.
We are now embedding a core of coalition forces in every Iraqi fighting unit, which makes each unit more effective and acts as a multiplier of our forces. Progress in "clearing" and "holding" is being made. The Sixth Infantry Division of the Iraqi Security Forces now controls and polices more than one-third of Baghdad on its own. Coalition and Iraqi forces have together cleared the previously terrorist-controlled cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tal Afar, and most of the border with Syria. Those areas are now being "held" secure by the Iraqi military themselves. Iraqi and coalition forces are jointly carrying out a mission to clear Ramadi, now the most dangerous city in Al-Anbar province at the west end of the Sunni Triangle.
Nationwide, American military leaders estimate that about one-third of the approximately 100,000 members of the Iraqi military are able to "lead the fight" themselves with logistical support from the U.S., and that that number should double by next year. If that happens, American military forces could begin a drawdown in numbers proportional to the increasing self-sufficiency of the Iraqi forces in 2006. If all goes well, I believe we can have a much smaller American military presence there by the end of 2006 or in 2007, but it is also likely that our presence will need to be significant in Iraq or nearby for years to come.