Major combat miscalculations

The second anniversary of President Bush's major P.R. stunt comes and goes.

Published May 10, 2005 4:36PM (EDT)

President Bush, in a speech aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003:

"Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

The New York Times, in a report from Baghdad on May 10, 2005:

"A Marine task force continued its operations today in a wide area of western Iraq near the Syrian border, after fighting off a counter-attack Monday night by insurgents, the military said today. ... It killed 100 insurgents and raided desert outposts and city safe houses belonging to insurgents who have used the area to import cars, money, weapons, and foreigners to fight United States and Iraqi forces in Baghdad, Mosul and other cities ... In central Baghdad this morning, a car bomb aimed at a two-vehicle American military convoy exploded and killed 7 civilians and wounded 23, an Interior Ministry official said.

"The task force attack near Syria, involving more than 1,000 troops including a Marine regimental combat team that includes soldiers and sailors, appears to be the largest combat offensive in Iraq since the Marines invaded Falluja six months ago. It comes as senior American commanders have increasingly blamed the porous border with Syria for allowing a never-ending stream of armed jihadists to enter Iraq and replenish the insurgency as quickly as fighters can be killed and captured."

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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