Not Exactly a Shock: Gordon of ‘NYT’ Offers Defense of ‘Surge’ Progress

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By: E&P Staff

Michael R. Gordon, whose articles have continually backed the U.S. involvement in Iraq — going back to his faulty WMD reporting before the war — appears on Saturday with another major piece given prominent play by The New York Times.

Gordon’s looks at the much-disputed numbers on the alleged drop in violence and death in Iraq since the “surge” began and comes out on the side of those who claim much progress. The numbers, however, have drawn criticism from many others at rival news outlets in the past week.

Gordon doesn’t buy the criticism but does offer these words of caution: “Can the drop be sustained over the coming months, especially with the approach of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month in which violence has often increased”

“Can the reduction in attacks ever be deep enough to make possible the kind of political reconciliation that American officials say has been arrested by the sectarian fighting? And can the improvement be preserved when American troop levels decline and the Iraqis assume more responsibility for their own security?”

After offering strong support for the official numbers, Gordon buries the key passage from Iraq Body Count, a British-based nongovernmental group that monitors civilian deaths: ?Levels of violence reached an all-time high in the last six months of 2006. Only in comparison to that could the first half of 2007 be regarded as an improvement.?

Near the very end of the article comes this statement: “Some experts, including Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, say that a variety of other nonmilitary measures, like the number of Iraqis who have fled their homes and or who have been kidnapped, are also essential for any assessment of trends.”

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