"I think we are winning. Okay? I think we're definitely winning. I think we've been winning for some time." - Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the Iraq War 04/26/05
"I just wonder if they will ever tell us the truth." - Harold Casey, Louisville, KY, October 2004.
You're doin' a heckuva job, Maliki
Bush's method of giving the Judas kiss to Michael "Brownie" Brown and Donald "Rummy" Rumsfeld was to fulsomely praise them in public just before axing them. Bush said on Thursday when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with thim that "we support this government, because the government understands it was elected by the people. And Prime Minister Maliki is working hard to overcome the many obstacles in the way to a peaceful Iraq, and we want to help him".
Also, in the just-what-does-he-mean-by-that category, Bush said of Iran, "And my message to the Iranian people is we have no beef with the Iranian people." Robert Fisk recounts in his The Great War for Civilisation (2005) that when he heard Bush say something similar about the Iraqi people in his UN speech in the fall of 2002, Fisk thought, he's decided to go to war for sure, it's flak jackets on.
This is a time of big uncertainty about events in the Iraq War. Do I need to say that the Establishment punditocracy is floundering around cluelessly trying to figure out what's going on?
But even well-informedand sensible peopleare having a hard time reading the situation. Bob Dreyfuss, who is generally no fount of optimism, sounds downright enthusiastic that the Baker commission (ISG-Iraq Study Group)report and the coming of Bob Gates are going to put the US on a withdrawal trajectory (Baker to Bush: Game Over TomPaine.com 11/30/06). But he ends an unusually hopeful column with, "Pray it isn’t too late."
Others are skeptical that Bush will change course in any meaningful way. Ray McGovern in Gates, Hadley: More Of The Same TomPaine.com 11/29/06 thinks if Gates is confirmed as SedDef, he will continue his past habits of being a toady for his bosses, who in this case will be Cheney and Bush:
No one should expect Gates to depart one iota from the position of the president, who said Tuesday, "I'm not going to pull the troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." In answering the senators' questions, Gates insisted that an early pullout would risk "leaving Iraq in chaos [with] dangerous consequences both in the region and globally for many years to come."
Harold Meyerson is also a skeptic (Plumb Out of Mission Washington Post 11/29/06). He specifically talks about something I discussed the other day, that the Vietnam War prism which we are all tempted to use in looking at the Iraq War may be very misleading. For one thing, we had more actual supporters in Vietnam than in Iraq:
We have plumb run out of mission in Iraq. We have enemies galore, but, other than the Kurds, precious few friends. We defend the idea of Iraq in the absence of Iraqis willing to do the same. We are at best a buffer - unable to deter the daily atrocities but ensuring by our presence that they won't grow cataclysmically worse. Since we cannot deter the sectarian polarization, however, the cataclysm will follow our leave-taking whether it comes sooner or later.
This bleak situation showed itself most clearly in the recent discussion of administration thinking on just whose side we would choose to support if and when we finally decide to start calling the situation in Iraq a 'civil war'. Going on four years running the place (officially or in effect) we're still not certain who our friends are. And that's really a round-about way of saying we don't have any.
I hope that a bolt of good sense would suddenly cause the scales to fall from Bush's eyes, or whatever other melodramatic simile you might want to use. And then he would try to arrange a phased withdrawal on a six-month or so schedule and try to set diplomatic arrangement to allow the withdrawal with minimal violence. It's just hard for me to picture him doing that given his awful record the last six years.
"Wars are easy to get into, but hard as hell to get out of." - George McGovern and Jim McGovern 06/06/05