The game of bait-and-switch goes on, without anyone seeming to notice. Following the Congressional testimony of his commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, Bush has reportedly embraced his recommendation that the US withdraw 30,000 troops—by next summer. Bizarrely, this is being portrayed as a de-escalation—even though it will leave 130,000 troops in Iraq. In other words, around the same as before the “surge.” Also around the same as in May 2003 when Bush declared an end to “major combat operations”—at which time troop levels were ostensibly slated to be reduced by 100,000 over the next four months. (They now stand at 168,000.)
The testimony of US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker was redolent of the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” that the LBJ administration kept seeing in Vietnam. “A secure, stable, democratic Iraq at peace with its neighbors is, in my view, attainable,” he said. “As we look ahead, we must acknowledge that 2006 was a bad year in Iraq. The country came close to unraveling politically, economically, and in security terms. 2007 has brought some improvements.” Note disingenuous use of the past tense, as if Iraq were not still in the process of “unraveling.” (The Scotsman, Sept. 12; Salt Lake Tribune, Sept. 10)
See our last posts on Iraq and the politics of withdrawal/escalation.
What Westmoreland said
Deja vu, anyone? From the book America in Vietnam, by John Guilmartin:
They never learn, do they?
Petraeus, Condy invoke Iran threat
Petraeus’ testimony also made an implicit case for intervention against Iran.
In his testimony, he accused Iran of fighting a “proxy war” in Iraq through the covert operations unit of the Revolutionary Guards—the Quds force.
A statement from Iran’s foreign ministry denied the charge, but added: “This report will not save the United States from the Iraqi quagmire.”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice followed up on remarks two days later, telling NBC that Iraq “has very troublesome neighbours… And I would note that President Ahmadinejad said if the United States leaves Iraq, Iran is prepared to fill the vacuum. That is what is at stake here.”
Rice said that together with the allies in the “war on terror,” the United States would “resist both terrorism and Iranian aggression” in Iraq. (AFP, Sept. 12)
We hate to tell you Condy, but Iran has already filled the vacuum. Southern Iraq has already become an Iranian satellite state since the British withdrawal from Basra. This is the ultimate irony of the whole Bush adventure. US policy in the Persian Gulf for nearly a generation (including under Bush pere) was predicated on supporting Saddam to keep the Iranians at bay. Baby Bush has undone this in one fell swoop. They have created the circumstances for an extension of Iranian power beyond the Shatt al-Arab.
MoveOn.org beat us to the punch
We thought we had come up with that Petraeus-betray us line, but MoveOn.org used it in a New York Times ad yesterday—prompting an anrgy backlash frm Rudy Giuliani. (NYT, Sept. 14)
New Republican Party Link: MoveOn.org!
From the non-partisan quasi-satirical blog Mayor Mike [Bloomberg] for President:
Meanwhile, MMFP informs us that FreedomsWatch.org is going to be the Republicans’ answer to MoveOn.org…
WW4R asks: Don’t Republicans believe in apostrophes?
Gen. Petraeus: war criminal?
From AFP, Sept. 13:
As we’ve noted, some folks think such stunts are back-firing.
What do you think?
See our last post on the politics of the anti-war movement.
The MoveOn ad was a spectacularly bad move that does lead to the suspicion that Rove has a highly place mole in the organization. Whether you can make the case that the books are being cooked during the report (wouldn’t that be a shock) ceases to be an issue when you hand your enemies the news cycle for the entire month. The play on words, no problem as a blog posting, nullifies your argument and then some in the New York Times.
Calling Petraeus a war criminal for lying to the US public doesn’t make sense – or is it all about us, our brave soldiers and our blood and treasure, with the displaced and dead of Iraq bit players. Why cheapen the phrase ‘war criminal’. It’s like screaming ‘fascist’ at some working class cop who basically can’t let you break a Starbucks window. There may be war crimes here, but be an adult. Lying to Senators isn’t a ‘war crime’. It may be a crime (unless you’re Dr Rice), but it’s not a war crime.
Getting ejected from the committee room serves no point except to paint anyone left of Hillary as a fringe adolescent. With one ad buy MoveOn has damaged the progressives more than the 9/11 truth clowns. Soros could do much better with his money, for instance here or here.
Hold the phone, JG…
Lying to Congress (and the American public) doesn’t make Petraeus a war criminal, but stuff like this and this and this assuredly does. And the lying does warrant the “betray us” line. If we always feel we have to pull our punches for fear of Republican backlash, we will always betray our responsibility to speak truth to power.
As for Daddy Soros—well, WW4R could certainly use his bucks. But I fear it would taint us as pawns of his globalist agenda. If he ever really offered us money, it would be a genuine dilemma whether to accept it—alas, one we will likely never be faced with…
If there are war crimes involved, then charge him with war crimes and don’t cheapen the phrase grandstanding. Do you see the difference between speaking truth to power and using a childish rhyme in an expensive ad? Could the point have been made in a more adult fashion? Or is it necessary to limit your target audience to 10 percent of the country to maintain the moral high ground?
Cooking the books on a military report does not stand up to the classic definition of ‘betrayal’. Treason is a pretty rough charge in print. So if truth about real betrayal comes out what word do you use?
Not getting it, JG
Look, I aired the criticisms of MoveOn to get the debate out in the open. So thanks for weighing in. But in the interests of debate, let me present the other side…
When Code Pink (not MoveOn) accused him of being a war criminal, they were presumably referring to his war crimes (bombing and strafing civilian areas, sweeps of the populace, arming ethnic cleansers like the late Sheikh al-Rishawi, etc.), not his lying.
Lying to the American people may not fit the technical definition of treason, but yes it does fit the classic definition of betrayal! When Westmoreland cooked the books by inflating Viet Cong casualties (as is now pretty universally acknowledged), that did not constitute betrayal? Petraeus’ similar deflation of sectarian violence casualties does not constitute betrayal? Didn’t someone sing back at the height of the Vietnam nightmare something about not getting fooled again?
Some annotation will follow…
GAO contradicts Petraeus
Spencer Ackerman for Muckraker.com, Sept. 10:
From Saigon to Baghdad
A very prescient opinion piece by Marshall Windmiller, from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 11-17, 2005:
Preaching to the choir
If you follow the talking heads you’ll see that left wing extremists like Joe Biden are basically echoing the line that is in, for instance, your other post RE: Democracy Now on the bombed sheik and the arming of the Sunni Civil war. If Code Pink is not referring to his cooking numbers for the Senate committee then their argument stands, but your question was whether those actions and the MoveOn ad were counter productive.
I, and probably the majority of your readers, would agree with the above definition of betrayal and the ‘history doesn’t repeat but it does rhyme’ similarities to the Vietnam war. However, as proven time and again, most recently in 2004, this country can be governed with the consent of a loud right wing minority if the center can be obfuscated. My question: Would avoiding grandstanding grade C copy writing in the pages of the New York Times and instead spelling the arguments and facts out in a more, shall we say, adult manner be more productive in reaching the wavering center right? It would allow more discussion of what is going on and less rhetoric about the far left, and the New York Times, stabbing our troops in the back – which we will certainly be hearing enough about after Dien Bien Phu.
Accurate, yes. Productive, no.