Pentagon voices optimism on Iraqs tough reality


By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Monday there was reason for optimism in Iraq despite what it called the "tough reality" of a war in which insurgent violence rages unabated and the U.S. military death toll approaches 2,000.

Two-and-a-half years after American-led forces invaded Iraq to oust President Saddam Hussein, U.S. officials tout political progress -- saying every important milestone has been achieved including a draft constitution -- and the steady building of Iraqi security forces.

But some defense experts, saying insurgencies like this one can take years to unfold, argued the conflict had become a military stalemate and expressed concern about civil war. They also said an erosion in U.S. public support for the war should be a worrisome development for President George W. Bush.

Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita urged people not to gauge the war based on the volume of rebel bombings. "That's not a good way to determine how good or bad things are going -- by (counting) how many things are exploding," Di Rita said.

"Nobody's trying to hide from that reality. It's a tough reality," he said. "But it's a tough reality in which, I think, generally the people that are closest to it, the Iraqi political leaders and our commanders, feel (there is) reason for some optimism despite all the violence."

U.S. troops, numbering 147,000, and a government led by Shi'ites and Kurds are facing a Sunni Arab insurgency that arose after Saddam, a Sunni, was deposed.

The U.S. military death toll in the 30-month war stands at 1,902, the Pentagon said, with 14,479 more troops wounded. An average of two U.S. troops are killed daily. If that rate holds, the toll would reach 2,000 in early November. The toll of dead and wounded have been many times higher among Iraqis.

Hundreds of Iraqi civilians and security personnel have been killed this month in rebel attacks, including a spate of bombings and shootings in and near Baghdad last week, that have heightened fears of a sectarian civil war.
That's not a good way to determine how good or bad things are going -- by (counting) how many things are exploding," Di Rita said.
No, it appears they haven't :(

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