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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kicking the Can

Earlier this week we were treated to the much bally-hooed report from General Petreaus and Amb. Crocker on The Surge (or the New Way Forward, or Clear and Hold, or The Way Ahead, or Stand up/Stand down, I forget which one). There are so many aspects of this episode to discuss, from the truthiness and misleading statistics, to the media manipulation and, yes, propaganda, that I can't even begin to address all of them. I will try, however, to address the overall context of the surge report and point you to richer discussions of the varying aspects.

To talk about the surge, one must go back to the winter of 2006. If you remember, the democrats won congress, the ISG had concluded that Bush needed to change course, and even little Tommy Friedman was saying that we had to be either in for ten years or out in ten months (of course, even when Bush ignored Tommy's conditions, Tommy supported the surge, and doesn't seem to remember writing that column). So from this bubbling well of discontent, the surge was born. Bush had the genius idea of sending 30,000 more troops to Iraq to bring about security, thereby allowing political reconciliation to take place. Now, 8 months after Bush announced the surge, the security gains are both mixed and dubious, and the political reconciliation is non-existent. On top of that, the additional troops have significantly strained the military, and chickenhawks still haven't stood up to help out. Click "There's More..." and follow me below the jump.

So Gen. Petraeus's testimony went pretty much exactly as predicted. There were a couple interesting off-script moments, including when Petraeus couldn't say whether the war in Iraq was making America safer, but for the most part no big suprises. Now, Bush is going to be giving a prime time address tonight, and he is expected to announce plans to withdraw 30,000 troops by July 2008.

All that I can say is you guys got punked. This has been Bush's plan all along. It's known many different names, and supposedly different tactics, but the strategy has always been to keep 100,000 plus troops in Iraq for the rest of the Bush presidency. On a political level, I've long suspected that Bush and the GOP have wanted to have a democratic president in office when we finally get out of Iraq, so that any ensuing clusterfucking is all our fault. Trying to set up a stab-in-the-back narrative like Vietnam seems to be the plan to resuscitate the corpse of the GOP. For Bush, I think that he is clinging to the hope that leaving troops in Iraq long enough will find a pony, and that this will validate him to history as a great leader. So many psychological issues there.

So the plan is to kick the can down the road, six to nine months at a time. It's never the right time to look back. It's never the right time to question the strategy. It's only ever time to support the president in a time of war.

Chris Dodd is exactly right. Bush's plan to withdraw the surge troops by next summer leaves us exactly where we were at the end of last year. As he says,
"Moving us in 10 months to where we were 10 months ago is not progress. It is the very definition of status quo."
I was driving home from RI the other day, and Monster Hospital by Metric came on my iPod. The lyrics reminded me of the Iraq war (whatever their actual intent).
I fought the war
I fought the war but the war won
I fought the war
I fought thewar
I fought the war
But the war won't stop for the love of God
The fight over the war has already been lost. No matter what happens now, 3776 americans have been killed, 27,186 have been wounded, countless tens (or hundreds) of thousands of Iraqi's have been killed, and we've spent $451 Billion dollars so far (and counting).

All that the Republicans need to do to win the fight is to keep fighting it. So they do, and we stay in Iraq. When we leave, Iraqi's will continue to die. I fought the war but the war won.