...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



credit where due:

Iraqi authorities have been emphasizing security gains on the anniversary this week of the beginning of a joint crackdown to clear insurgent forces from Baghdad and surroundings with the help of some 30,000 additional U.S. troops.
Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a U.S. spokesman in Baghdad, also quantified the successes at a news conference Sunday but warned more work remained to be done.
"A year ago, there were an average of 205 terrorist attacks each day across Iraq. Last month, we had tracked 82 — a decrease of over 60 percent," he said. Recently, there have been some days when the total number of attacks dropped below 40, the lowest level since 2004.
AP/google 17.Feb.08
The dramatic decline in bloodshed in Iraq – at least until last week’s terrible market bombings in Baghdad – is largely due to Muqtada al-Sadr’s August 2007 unilateral ceasefire. Made under heavy U.S. and Iraqi pressure and as a result of growing discontent from his own Shiite base, Muqtada’s decision to curb his unruly movement was a positive step. But the situation remains highly fragile and potentially reversible. If the U.S. and others seek to press their advantage and deal the Sadrists a mortal blow, these gains are likely to be squandered, with Iraq experiencing yet another explosion of violence. The need is instead to work at converting Muqtada’s unilateral measure into a more comprehensive multilateral ceasefire that can create conditions for the movement to evolve into a fully legitimate political actor.
ICG 07.Feb.08

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