A Stitch In Time

Time… Time… Time…

It really feels like I’ve spent my entire time listening to an administration begging me to just give it a little more time. We’ll turn the corner if we have just, you know, a couple more months. Next year, TRUST ME, next year we’ll see some definite improvements.

This wears very thin. The immediate case is that it just gets tired and old and repetitive, but the underlying case is that after a while, it’s kinda hard to believe the hype. Yeah, just a little more time, like I ain’t heard that one before.

Just yesterday, all seven internets were aflame with the release of the July Iraqi Benchmark Assessment Report. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the White House merely spinning progress out of thin air so that when it hopped back on the “More Time” circuit, it wouldn’t seem completely and totally silly.

But of course, this late in the game, that’s exactly what it seems. Now, you should know, dear reader, that in an interesting twist, what has become a common defense among those who defend these people and the things they do is to take our attacks on their actions and their arguments and spin them into ad hominems. It’s kind of ironic, and a little clever.

Attack Bush’s ultra flawed policy in Iraq, and it get’s spun that you “hate Bush.” See? Valid argument into an ad hominem, just like that.

Which is the very thing that Charles Krauthammer attempts to do in his recent WaPo piece. Criticism of how things are going in Iraq are essentially a referendum on General Patraeus’ personal faculties, going so far as to say that we either relegate him to either “deluded or dishonorable”.

But not really. Now I have made the case that Patraeus’ credibility is now in question, but I think him neither deluded nor dishonorable. On the contrary. I think his behavior is what is to be expected of a soldier, his mentality one I can not fault him for.

He has a goal. He has his orders. It’s not for a general to question his orders or to dwell on the possibility of a mission, it is simply to accomplish it. That’s his job. Not to look at the situation and determine if it can be done or not, only to find a way to get it done. It is the military way, and the honorable way.

But there are two underlying faults here. One is the mission. It is, essentially, unfair to ask General Patraeus whether the mission can be accomplished or not because it is not solely a military mission. Derided by conservatives who apparently think I know nothing about the military, I had in the past made the claim that what makes this an untennable situation is that we are not giving our soldiers clear mission objectives to accomplish. There’s no hill to conquer.

Instead, the military success of the mission is dependant upon, and goes hand in hand with the political success of the mission. The surge, in essence, is a two pronged mission, one prong military, the other political. In spite of this, however, the entire weight of the court of public opinion bears down solely on the shoulders of the man in charge of the military side of the house.

Where are the diplomats and ambassadors that can give account for the political portion of the mission? They are nowhere to be found.

Which brings me to the other problem. Bush. Bush is both deluded and dishonorable, along with a side of incompetent. Unfortunately for General Patraeus, what he is learning is the same lesson that Colin Powell once had to learn; when you’re working for President Bush, the deluded-dishonorable-incompetent stink has a tendancy to rub off on you.

It was Bush’s inability to manage this war effectively that has led to public disapproval of the war in general. It was his constant promise that things would get better soon that have fostered mass cynicism in response to any such claims in the present. It is his incomptence that has put Patraeus alone on a stage that he should be sharing with, I don’t know, maybe a “Diplomacy Czar?”

I have often read that Patraeus is a miracle worker of sorts. I’ve read of his abilities, and think that in a better world, he may even be able to turn the war around. But this is not that world, and there is one key fundamental thing to take into account. Ultimately, Bush is responsible. He’s where the buck stops, whether he wants to admit it or own up to it. This is his war, his endeavor, and therefore the character of the war rests with him, not with Patraeus.

In the end the call to end the war is not a report of public discontent with Patraeus’ ability or efforts, it is however a condemnation of Bush. That’s the game. You only get to ask for more time for so long before you run out of time, no matter what you bring to the table in the final moments.

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