The debate we anticipated this month over the future of the Iraq War is over. Bush won.
Never mind that the debate never actually took place. The Bush administration successfully kicked the can down the road, buying more time to sell its lies to a compliant media. All the bluster that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi emitted earlier this summer was just that: empty bluster aimed at buying them political cover while they prepared to roll over for Bush yet again.
With the benefit of hindsight, we can see how it all unfolded. Democrats puffed out their chests in May with a grandiose display of pseudo-courage, passing a bill that required Junior to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq as early as July. And, while they succeeded in portraying the Republicans as war-mongers (an achievement on par with evoking disgust for a child molester), they made no progress in ending the war, being thwarted by a veto and the deathly fear Democrats have of being portrayed as being "weak on terror" (whatever the hell that means). The outrage of the American public was assuaged with promises of a new debate after General Petraeus submitted a situational report in September. (The absurdity of a military officer setting US foreign policy, rather than a thoroughly discredited administration, went unmentioned.)
After the pitiful display in Congress, the Bush administration went to work, sending out their obfuscating message through their contacts in the media. Throughout the summer, we were bombarded by "serious" pundits assuring us that the "surge" had had an impact; that the level of violence in Iraq had fallen; that "progress" was undeniable.
Inconvenient facts were ignored or brushed aside. The fact that the Iraqi Parliament adjourned for the month of August without attaining the political benchmarks set for it by the Bush administration was mentioned briefly and then quickly dropped. When the GAO published a report stating that the "surge" had failed, that office's credibility was called into question. In short, it was the same old song-and-dance that the Bush administration had used to start the war: smear and obfuscate.
The capstone to this appallingly marvelous manipulation of the media came yesterday with testimony before the House of Representatives by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker who each droned on interminably about the hopeful Iraqi future that would be destroyed if Congress were to impose a timetable for withdrawal. The pervading feeling I experienced throughout the testimony (in spite of its being interrupted by outraged citizens protesting) was one of hopeless resignation. It would be folly to hope that the Democrats would stand up to this mind-numbing assault.
So, where are we? Well, while there may be a token reduction in the number of troops stationed in Iraq, the war is going to continue, since Bush and the Democratic leadership all have an interest in making sure that it does (please refer to my previous post for their respective motives). The agony of the Iraqi people will stretch on for the foreseeable future. American service persons will be killed. American treasure will be squandered or redistributed to the Cheney-Bush clan. The military and political situation in Iraq will continue to deteriorate. The looming menace of extremist Iran will continue to grow as American weakness becomes more apparent.
The vaunted Petraeus report with all its meaningless charts and graphs turned out to be a nothing, a place holder, a punctuation mark for a long, bewildering lie.
Oh, people! People...