If you read one thing today, read this. The New York Times makes up for the shame of running Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon's pro-administration propaganda by running this op-ed by seven soldiers stationed in Iraq (one of them, Staff Sergeant Jeremy Murphy, was shot in the head while they prepared the piece; he's expected to recover.)
Bottom line: The surge isn't working, folks. "[W]e are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day...The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the "battle space" remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers' expense...
"In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, "We need security, not free food."
Grim, honest, irrefutable. I'm sure the right-wing blogosphere is busy looking for ways to discredit the writers, but I think they're heroes. Is Congress listening?