Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Staying in Iraq Forever, Continued

I never really planned to do a big writeup on the Petraeus testimony this week, even before I decided to take a few days away from the blog. No one will remember what happened on Capitol Hill today by the end of this month, let alone by the end of this year.

Time magazine's Ana Marie Cox interrupted the campaign chatter on their blog by calling the hearings the elephant in the room, but the real elephant that everyone was ignoring was what a masturbatory affair the whole thing was. The Senators asked him updated versions of the same questions they asked of him last September. And he gave the exact same answers, except better rehearsed in parts. It was theatre. And everyone knew it.

Those in Congress who know that the war is an unsustainable disaster also know that they lack the power to end it, unless they cut the funding, which is seen as political suicide. And those who still support the war with a passion (the Liebermans, the McCains) and those who support it out of partisan loyalty (85% of the Republicans in the Senate) know that running out the clock has been the real success of the surge all along, and they're happy to continue as long as the media is still barred from showing the flag-draped coffins returning home.

Our foreign policy is in limbo until January 2009, and everyone knows it. But no one wants to say that, so they hold some hearings to look productive.

In the meantime, things in Iraq continue to be a mess. And with Petraeus stating that he's pausing troop drawdowns that never actually began in the first place, it's time to come clean on something else. This is not a surge... it's an escalation. A surge-- by dictionary definition-- is something temporary. The troop increase has been in place for over a year now; it's permanent. It's been an escalation, period, and ol' Bush got the political/media establishment to accept it hook, line, and sinker. If he governed as well as well as he dodges accountability for his actions, this country would be on easy street right now.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a series of hearings on the status of the Vietnam war in January 1966... over half a decade after the original commitment of forces to aid in that country's war. Administration officials and military officials and foreign diplomats gave testimony to reassure skeptical Senators that not only were we winning the war, but that we were just there in an assistance capacity to the South Vietnamese fighters (both lies). The war, of course, would go on for another 9 years, even though everyone-- from President Johnson to Sec. of Defense McNamara and other officials-- would later admit that they knew the war was already lost at this point. The problem was that pride prohibited them from finding a way to deal with that. And, to this day, there is a dedicated group of dead-enders whose complaint about that war is that we left too soon.

That is where we find ourselves now and pretending that any hearing is going to change that is delusional.

[As Petraeus testifies, Baghdad teeters on edge of erupting (McClatchy News)]


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