The Washington Post Says the Surge Is Working AND No It Isn’t

Let no one accuse the Washington Post editorial and news staff of fraternizing with one another or perhaps even of observing the same world around them. This is especially true when it comes to their respective observations of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. For 3-4 years, Fred Hiatt (or whoever else writes the “official” no byline editorials) has been nearly as reluctant as Hillary Clinton to admit and apologize his error in originally supporting the invasion of Iraq. In opining on the recent testimony of General Patraeus and Ambassador Crocker, Hiatt had this to say in the Wednesday Post:

“Gen. Petraeus and Mr. Crocker have gotten more confident about calling the surge a success, and rightly so. ‘It’s worth it,’ said the general. ‘We have seen a significant degradation of al-Qaeda’s presence and its abilities,’ said the ambassador.”

Meanwhile, the editorial takes Democrats to task for not, in essence, moving on to accept that the surge is working well, the war has not been lost and they should not be considering an early withdrawal. While I concur in the risks of an early withdrawal, I wonder whether Fred or the other denizens of the editorial page either don’t trust or don’t believe their own well-regarded news staff. While Fred credits the surge, despite the history of mendacity from the Bush administration, Glenn Kessler notes in a sidebar news analysis of General Patraeus’ charts in his testimony to Congress, that the data doesn’t really add up:

“WHAT IT SHOWS: This chart combines maps of Baghdad’s ethnic neighborhoods with density plots of ethno-sectarian killings to show that violence has declined significantly from December 2006 to last month.

ANALYSIS: Hidden beneath many of the density plots are colors that show a major reshaping of Baghdad, from an ethnically mixed city to a patchwork of rival ethnic and religious enclaves whose residents rarely intersect outside their gated communities.

Many analysts, including in the U.S. government, believe that this de facto division of Baghdad — as opposed to brilliant U.S. counterinsurgency work — is largely responsible for the decline in violence.”

So, if you believe what Kessler is saying, Fred Hiatt is guilty of the logical fallacy of post ho ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) in assuming the surge is working. So, once again, I have to wonder why it is that a paper I once thought of as liberal or progressive (and has so often been so castigated by the right wing) now takes a neocon-friendly editorial slant. What’s up with that Fred?