|As you may know, the U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is preparing a progress report on the situation there. Do you think his report will honestly reflect the situation in Iraq, or do you think it will try to make things look better than they really are?|
|Honestly Reflect the Situation||Make Things Look Better||Unsure|
|Do you think Bush will use the Petraeus report to adjust U.S. policy in Iraq, or do you think Bush will stick with his Iraq policy no matter what the Petraeus report says?|
|Adjust His Policy||Stick With His Policy||Unsure|
Back in May, Senate majority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) announced "a giant step to begin the end of this war," namely a stern promise that when General Petraeus made his report this month, then there would be a real debate over whether or not to continue spending American lives to prop up the least popular side in the Iraqi Civil War. Never mind that similar "surges" had been tried three times already by that point, they were taking the Republicans at their word that if this last "surge" didn't win the war, even the Republicans would be forced to admit that no plausible US military strategy in Iraq was going to end the Iraqi Civil War for the Iraqis, not while the Iraqis were determined to keep fighting and we only have at most 150,000 combat troops plus some vague unspecified number of mercenaries and a few hundred non-US troops in the fight and the Iraqis have pretty nearly the whole adult male population in the fight. And at the time, what I asked you was, given how obvious the answer to that question is, how many American soldiers' lives was it worth to prove that point to the Republicans? So far, over 95% of you have agreed with me that the answer is "none."
This week, General Petraeus will, we now know, turn his copy of his report over to the White House. They will edit it to say what they want, and give it back to him to read to Congress. It will contain nothing that we didn't know back in May when 86 Democrats in the House and 37 Senate Democrats voted to keep shoveling American soldiers still alive into the flaming belly of Moloch in hopes that, in the absence of any new or meaningful military or diplomatic or political strategy for the US winning the Iraqi Civil War on behalf of our chosen side, perhaps the piety of our human sacrifice will convince some God to give it to us. More cynically, some of them think that the absence of meaningful results and the ongoing slaughter won't be held against the Democrats who voted for it in November of next year, that the voters will somehow overlook that and only hold it against the President's party. And, of course, the vast majority of them are cowards who are afraid that if they end the war and then anything ever goes bad for America ever again, Democrats will be blamed for "losing" Iraq the way that Republicans are constantly blamed for "losing" Somalia by cutting off funding, and therefore causing 9/11. Oh, wait, they're not. *sigh*
Well, okay, they got their way. Had they not voted the way they did, had they simply refused to pass another supplemental Iraq War funding bill, the Pentagon would have been forced to withdraw the troops before the money to do so ran out. According to the Pentagon's estimates during the debate over that bill, that would have been approximately June 30th. From July 1st through yesterday, September 9th, 183 American soldiers have died to prove what we already knew back on May 22nd. Have we murdered enough of our own, wasted enough of their lives, wrecked enough American families, to achieve whichever of those three insane and/or callous goals I mentioned above? Can we stop now?
No, of course not. How foolish of me to ask.
The American people are not going to decide that it's worth swarming the recruiting stations and cutting domestic spending to raise the million man army it would take to actually win this war. But they're also not ready to admit that the thousands who have died died for nothing in a war that we've already lost. The Iraqis aren't going to solve the problem for us by reconciling, not while a generation of Kurds and Shiites are determined to punish the Sunni Arab minority via ethnic cleansing and confiscation of everything they own, leaving the Sunnis with no meaningful alternatives but to either lie down and let their families die or to fight on, and we're not going to let the Shiites and the Kurds actually finish the war by actually killing them all off.
Last week, Keith Olbermann had a very public (and, even I'll say it, inappropriate) emotional meltdown over one line from the Robert Draper book, the one where Bush told Draper that he was playing for time, that his short-term goal is to drag out the debate over Iraq War funding to at least October. Olbermann's meltdown was over the callousness of using the word "playing," but that's not what he meant and Olbermann ought to know it. "Playing for time" is just a standard phrase for "stalling," and that's what Bush is doing. Bush really does believe that it's a matter of American life or death that our side in the Iraq Civil War win; he also knows that the American people won't entrust him with enough money or troops to win it. But if by ordering General Petraeus to go up there and lie for him he can drag this out through the end of October, then Congress will have to pass a budget for the Defense Department for the next fiscal year first. Either that budget will include money for continuing American involvement in the Iraq Civil War, or it won't. If it does, then the war goes on until somebody, Republican or Democrat, wins the election in November 2008. Bush then hopes that whoever it is, Republican or Democrat (he obviously hopes Republican), will have the popular support to raise the necessary forces to surge not a few thousand, but many hundreds of thousand, more Americans in and actually win the thing.
Bush is wrong to think that it's a matter of American life or death that our side in the Iraq Civil War wins. That's why he's also wrong to think that the next President will have no choice but to win it. But it looks like he's not wrong that he can keep fooling the Democrats in Congress into helping him drag the war out until then. And that makes me unbearably angry. Because those 183 soldiers who died weren't just soldiers. They were people. Their lives were worth something. And so are the lives of everybody else who will die when the Democrats chicken out again, sell out again, play callous political calculation again, and vote to continue the Iraq War for another pointless year.