COMMENTS: Defeat Avoidance

The first angle on the Iraq War concerned the status of the US reinforcements in Baghdad, the ones that were supposed to offer sufficient security for politicians to resolve sectarian disputes. CBS' Lara Logan traveled to al-Anbar Province with Gen David Petraeus, the commander of the so-called surge, and he told her that "the number of sectarian murders is one of the key indicators the military uses to monitor the progress." That answer came from NBC's Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon: "Sectarian killings are back on the rise." The Shiite militia known as the Mahdi Army "has resumed attacks against Sunnis in Baghdad." Miklaszewski confirmed a report in The New York Times that security forces control only 146 of Baghdad's 457 neighborhoods. Unidentified sources he referred to as "military experts" have long since "stopped talking about victory in Iraq. Instead the current strategy appears aimed at avoiding all-out defeat."

The second angle involved the continuing search for Alex Jimenez and Byron Fouty, the pair of soldiers from the Tenth Mountain Division who were captured in an ambush last month, purportedly by the Islamic Army of Iraq. NBC's Ian Williams joined the pair's comrades in 120F temperatures--"another exhausting day"--as the search dragged on in its third week. In the process a further two soldiers have been killed by bombs. Back in New York, ABC's Brian Ross narrated videotape posted by the IAI online that showed the military ID cards of Jimenez and Fouty as evidence that it had executed them. Ross quoted the official USArmy response to the video: "The evidence is very thin."


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