Rummy vs. Cole

From Holden:

Don Rumsfeld interviews himself on Tuesday:

Consider the following. Have the Iraqis been able to form a government that realistically incorporates the views of the various responsible factions in Iraq? Yes, they have. Have Iraqis successfully held representative elections? The answer is yes. Have they now succeeded in drafting a constitution that accords respect for individual rights? Indeed they have. Are the insurgents gaining or losing the support of the Iraqi people? President Talabani recently spoke in the United States about this. He noted that the vast majority of Iraqis, including Sunnis, want to participate in the political process and have been disgusted, and indeed, outraged by the barbarism of the extremists. Finally, despite the critics, are the Iraqi security forces growing in size and capability and allowing the Iraqi government to secure areas with coalition support? Yes, this too is happening. Iraqi security forces now number over 190,000.

Last week, for example, the people of Tall Afar were liberated from the grip of insurgents and foreign extremists who had tried to turn the city into a base of planning operations and training. A number of insurgents were caught fleeing the city dressed in women’s clothing — hardly a sign of a confident group supported by the citizenry.

And now, a does of reality from Professor Cole:

You really have to wonder if this Reuters reporter and whoever wrote the headline are on the same page. The report is about how returnees to the city of Tal Afar find it still so insecure that they are leaving again, while many other former residents are afraid to return. The International Committee of the Red Cross is complaining about being excluded from inspections; apparently they are expecting to find substantial damage to buildings in the city. The Tal Afar campaign netted very few captives, and most guerrillas appear to have escaped. It involved setting Kurdish peshmerga fighters on Turkmen; given the severe tension between the two groups, this strategy may be sowing the seed of violence far into the future.