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Max Boot cooks the books

September 13, 2007

Re "Nothing succeeds like success," Opinion, Sept. 8

Max Boot has certainly consumed enormous quantities of Bush Kool-Aid. Boot asserts that sectarian violence in Iraq has decreased significantly since December 2006. However, the first of the "surge" troops did not arrive in Iraq until February, and civilian deaths in Iraq have been fairly steady from January through August. Also, Boot has cooked the books. If you change the definitions to exclude large numbers of deaths, it is hardly surprising that you find deaths decreasing.

Boot accuses opponents of the war of trying to "change the topic" by focusing on the complete lack of political progress in Iraq since the surge began. He apparently has forgotten that when President Bush proposed the surge, it was to give the Iraqi government breathing space to reach political reconciliation. That this has not taken place means the surge has failed by its own stated terms.

Finally, Boot argues that Sunni tribal leaders taking guns and money from us to fight Al Qaeda is evidence of the surge's success. Al Qaeda in Iraq did not exist before our invasion. Boot is ignoring that we have now switched sides in a civil war and are arming the very Baathists we removed from power by invading in the first place. It is only a matter of time before they train their new weapons on the Shiite government that is our putative ally, or on our own troops.

Eric Stockel

Los Angeles


Boot should have titled his column, "Nothing deceives like deception," for clearly his intention is to deceive his reader. What is most puzzling is his drawing upon an unnamed "well-placed officer in Baghdad" for his assessment of the Iraq war rather than the recent independent reports by the Government Accountability Office and the Jones commission.

Boot also fails to mention that the last three months were the bloodiest period for American troops in Iraq. I'm afraid the tree from which Boot is picking his cherries is producing sick fruit.

Sam Armato

Manhattan Beach


It is interesting to see the way Boot blithely glosses over the failing political situation in Iraq. A few military victories, achieved largely because of the Sunni tribesman and begun before the surge, and he's ready to stay and fight on while ignoring the basic facts. Without the possibility of a political turnaround, Iraq will descend into civil war when we leave, regardless of whether it is next week or next year, and any lives spent continuing the current strategy are a tragic waste.

Jim Bartell

Long Beach


Boot conveniently fails to mention that the reason there are fewer civilian casualties in Iraq is that there are fewer Iraqis to kill. It is a well-known fact that thousands of Iraqis have fled to other countries or are living in refugee camps.

Perla Manapol


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