As August comes to a close, summer wanes, and Congress prepares to return to Washington to debate further congressional funding and support for the Iraq war, all eyes are on General David Petraeus. It is he that has been given the task of providing an assessment report on the political and military situation in Iraq and all sides in the debate have called a rhetorical cease fire until after he says his piece.
At the risk of sounding cynical (but really, how does one avoid cynicism in this age of Karl Rove?), I suspect that this report will be just another example of the Bush administration finding a way to convince Congress and the media into going along with its folly.
It was recently leaked to the media that Petraeus' report is, in fact, being written by the White House. That, by itself, discredits the validity of the report. But, the administration wanted to go farther and excuse Petraeus from public testimony before Congress.
Well, thankfully, the Bush people had to back off on that little bit of petulance. Now it just remains to be seen if Petraeus will be a man of principle, honor, and integrity by telling the truth despite what Bush may want, or if he will forfeit his credibility, in the manner of hapless Colin Powell, and be a "good soldier" by saying what Bush and company have told him to say. (Just following orders? Where have we heard that before?)
Further, when Petraeus is up before the Armed Services Committee in the Senate, can the American people count on the Democrats to get the truth out of him? Senator Carl Levin (MI), the committee chairman, recently returned from a trip to Iraq, has already made public noises about Bush's "surge" appearing to have had a positive effect. Even Washington state's own Brian Baird, hardly a neo-conservative, has said that the new strategy may be working. All of this before Petraeus has said a word.
As for our fearless, intrepid media, certain analysts have also returned from Iraq saying things are much better than they were a year ago, at least in terms of the level of violence. (Note, however, that the number of casualties suffered by the United States since June, are higher than any other June-August period since the occupation began.)
Well....maybe we should look at motives.
- Bush administration - The motive here is obvious: to avoid admitting the complete and utter ineptitude and criminal negligence of this administration, the war must be extended, thereby suspending judgement on its success. This is a stall tactic, but it is all they've got. They are reduced to hoping for some unimagined miracle that will pull their rancid fat from the fires of historical judgment.
- Congressional Democrats - Democrats love this war. By their way of thinking, it is guaranteeing them increased majorities in both houses of Congress and a better-than-even chance at capturing the White House. They're licking their chops in anticipation of all those fat contributions that will be coming their way come 2009. Look for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to "reluctantly" concede that they cannot stop the war, shrug their narrow shoulders, and go along with the next Bush folly, all the while laughing up their sleeves.
- The media - Anything for attention in this Rupert Murdoch profit-driven business. Some journalists will be motivated by personal greed (remember Armstrong Williams and the "No child left behind" fiasco), others will be angling for White House "access," but be assured that, with a few exceptions, there will be a lot of somber head-nodding pundits who concur with the manufactured consensus that the "surge" has been a qualified success.