{ An Autopsy of Democracy }

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The embassy P.R. tour

Hear a General, Hug a Sheik: Congress Visits Iraq - New York Times

So members of Congress get to see the "Tactical Momentum" first hand, in highly choreographed Green Zone tours. Not a surprise.

And that some are buying it -- well, perhaps also not a surprise.

But this is almost as surreal as John McCain's "stroll through the marketplace" :

The Pentagon is pleased and a senior White House official called the trips “a net plus.” And at least one Democrat, Representative Brian Baird of Washington, an early opponent of the war, has changed his mind.

Mr. Baird was especially struck by his trip to Yusufiya, a farm town about 15 miles south of Baghdad in an area long dominated by Sunni insurgents. He met the mayor, visited a market and chatted with two sheiks, a Sunni and a Shiite, who “embraced us in front of everybody out on the street,” he said.

“That’s real progress,” Mr. Baird said, though he confessed he did not tell his wife about the region’s nickname, the triangle of death, and said the whole scene was a little surreal. “You have your flak jacket on, and your Kevlar helmet and you’re surrounded by guys with automatic weapons as you’re standing there, talking to the mayor. And you realize there’s a dusty old car next to you and you’re saying, ‘God, I hope that doesn’t blow up.’ ”

The Congressional Iraq tours rarely include chats with ordinary Iraqis. “You don’t have the mobility for that,” Mr. Kingston said. And Iraqis are a tad suspicious of the marketplace scenes. When faced with an American in a business suit and a flak jacket, they tend to react warily, unsure of who the visitor might be, or what role he plays in Iraq policy.

Iraqi officials view the Congressional visits — quick in-and-out trips — with a blend of appreciation and scorn. Most wish the Americans would stay longer.


Now I don't know about you, but I call that Real Progess (TM)!

TruthDig has a good little op-ed on this. And be sure to read that NY Times Op-Ed piece -- it really is excellent.

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