Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Petraeus and Crocker

So the long-awaited September "report" to Congress is here. It's pretty dismal. Things are marginally better in Anbar province where the military has switched from being the arm of a Shi'ite national government to arming local Sunnis (read: militias) ostensibly for their struggle against Al Qaeda. Of course, they are really arming them for their potential struggle with the Shi'ite national government when the USA finally leaves, but they seem to think that isn't what's going on. Will the Sunni and Shi'ite groups agree to work out their differences at the ballot box rather than through armed conflict? Unlikely. The Shi'ites have too much to gain and the Sunni too much to lose. They can read the US media as well as we can. They know that within 2 years, US military presence will substantially diminish.

The testimony was awful. Petraeus answered Biden's question about whether the war was making the USA safer with an almost unbelievable response, "I haven't really thought about it." There was no confidence expressed in the Maliki regime at all by Crocker or Petraeus. The plan apparently is to end the surge by next summer, returning us to the halcyon days of 2006. I felt almost sorry for them, being asked to defend the administration's policies. As a general, Petraeus is not in the professional habit of saying "it can't be done." But his statement that he cannot really see past next summer speaks volumes. They think they can prevent Iraq from unraveling, but only at a continued cost of American lives. Progress, in terms of creating a stable political future, may be "attainable" as Crocker said, but nobody knows how to attain it. To sum up: Give War a Chance. As if we haven't been giving it a chance for 4 1/2 years.

The biggest asshole, predictably, was Lieberman. He asked Petraeus a leading question: was it time, he asked, for the Congress to give Petraeus the authority to pursue Iranian special forces (this Quds brigade thing) into Iranian territory? Petraeus visibly winced. He then responded carefully that this was something for Central Command to consider, not his forces in Iraq. In other words, we can't take on another war in Iran with our current configuration.

I am increasingly optimistic that Republicans will begin to defect from Bush and insist on some sort of legislative sunset to the war. The cost of the Iraq war in lives and money already dwarfs the cost of 9/11.


Dr. Strangelove said...

Bush blurs the distinctions between our enemies and sees all terrorist organizations as branches of the same tree. It has been pointed out by some of my colleagues that, by ignoring the divisions between our enemies, we miss an important opportunity.

Iran provides support to Shia militias, not the Sunni. Iran supports Hamas, not al Qaeda. Iran and al Qaeda in Iraq are enemies.

Conservatives pooh-poohed the idea of talking with Iran because they said--rightly--that Iran does not wish to help us. But if we are willing to let Iraq fall further into the Iranian sphere of influence, the Shia and their Iranian backers will get rid of competing and destabilizing forces. They will take care of al Qaeda in Iraq for us.

If we leave, the civil war will likely worsen for a time, but in time it is equally likely that the Iranian-backed Shia forces will prevail. While we remain, we prolong the war: we insist on "reconciliation" but provide no incentive, and we also prevent any side from winning. Meanwhile, al Qaeda in Iraq continues to grow and fester. When one pulls a knife out of a stab-wound, that will at first cause more bleeding, but only when the knife is removed can the wound begin to heal.

Raised By Republicans said...

Speaking of missed opportunities, the Sunni tribal leader who helped us turn the native Iraqi Sunni militias against Al Qaeda was murdered today. Presumably by Al Qaeda. He was blown up with a V.B.I.E.D. (see posting above).

Chicken Noodle News is all a-boil about whether this will derail our plans in Iraq...wait a minute, we had a plan!?

Dr. Strangelove said...

Oh, and thank you for saying "lives and money" rather than "blood and treasure." I'm sick of that pompous phrase. Like "date certain" it is a phrase used by politicians to try to make themselves sound knowledgeable. And it really doesn't work.

The Law Talking Guy said...

"Lives and money" was a deliberate choice for the reason you expressed. "Blood and treasure" is a horrible, tedious phrase. Its metonymy also obscures the harsh reality of war.

Bell Curve said...

I am increasingly optimistic that Republicans will begin to defect from Bush and insist on some sort of legislative sunset to the war.

I will bet you any amount of money this will not happen. But I appreciate your optimism.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Any amount of money? This is looking up. What about $100 bet that on or before April 1, 2008, the Congress will have passed a bill setting a timetable for withdrawal, setting a date to begin withdrawal, or setting some sort of "hard" benchmarks that trigger withdrawal if X, Y, or Z is not met.

Raised By Republicans said...

What troop level shall we define as being low enough to constitue having sunsetted the war? What if they pull most troops out but leave say 10,000 in place?