by Max Brantley
McClatchy continues to provide it. Save this article for the Petraeus spin later today.
BAGHDAD — When President Bush announced in January what the White House called a “New Way Forward” in Iraq, he said that Iraqi and American troops would improve security while the Iraqi government improved services. Responsibility for security in most of Iraq would be turned over to Iraqi security forces by November.
With better security would come the breathing room needed for political reconciliation, Bush said.
With less than a week to go before the White House delivers a congressionally mandated report on that plan, none of this has happened.
Baghdad has become more segregated. Sunni Muslims in the capital now live in ghettos encircled by concrete blast walls to stop militia attacks and car bombs. Shiite militias continue to push to control the city’s last mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods in the southwest, by murdering and intimidating Sunni residents and, sometimes, their Shiite neighbors. Services haven't improved across most of the capital — the international aid group Oxfam reported in July that only 30 percent of Iraqis have access to clean water, compared with 50 percent in 2003 — and tens of thousands of Iraqis are fleeing their homes each month in search of safety.
Iraqi security forces remain heavily infiltrated by militias, and political leaders continue to intervene in their activities.
Civilian deaths haven't decreased in any significant way across the country, according to statistics from the Iraqi Interior Ministry, and numbers gathered by McClatchy Newspapers show no consistent downward trend even in Baghdad, despite military assertions to the contrary. The military has provided no hard numbers to back the claim.
And that's just the beginning.