I’m Getting Just A Little Sick Of Irony

Maybe I’m just having a hard time adjusting to my new sleep schedule, I don’t know.  What I do know is the kabuki that is slated to happen today is apt to twist my brain into a knot, and I don’t like it.

As you all know, General Petraeus is heading to the Hill today in our semiannual ritual of, “Relax guys, it’s going great,” testimony regarding Iraq.  Once there he’s expected to, believe it or not, say that we’ve made gains in our little country of occupation.  Everything’s going according to plan.

In fact, things are going so great that there will likely still need to be 140,000 troops in Iraq come this fall.  As I said back in September of last year, Bush’s “drawdown” was never actually a drawdown, and this only goes to emphasize that point.

My question is, if things are going so great, why do we still need to maintain troop levels elevated over pre-surge levels?

The party line is, of course, to prevent back skidding, but if the ultimate point of the surge was to foment political reconciliation, would any modicum of actual success along those parameters negate the possibility of back skidding?

How many more Friedman units are we going to have to go through before this circus ends?

Well, with McCain, the answer to that is a whole hell of a lot.

3 Responses to “I’m Getting Just A Little Sick Of Irony”

  1. Mark says:

    A couple points that I’ve been meaning to make for awhile:
    1. Gen. Petraeus is an outstanding military general; his strategies have in my mind unquestionably improved the security situation in Iraq.
    2. However, he is a military general, not a politician. As a result, the political benchmarks that the Bushies set have not been met. That these benchmarks have not been met is not Petraeus’ fault. However, these benchmarks haven’t been met because they are unrealistic- we continue to ignore Iraq’s long history, and in particular the fact that Iraq the country exists only because of arbitrary line-drawing made 100 years ago by the British. As a result, political instability in Iraq will continue unabated until it either results in genocide against the Sunnis (and, eventually, maybe the Kurds) or partition. Obviously, we will not condone genocide; however, as long as we are unwilling to push for partition (as Joe Biden wanted to do), our presence in Iraq is simply delaying the inevitable, which is a full-blown civil war. So, our choice is to either pull out and do what we can to mitigate the eventual civil war or push for partition and withdraw to Kurdistan. Meanwhile, our presence in the rest of Iraq continues to be al-Qaeda’s best recruiting tool.
    3. Petraeus is a military general, with GWB above him in the chain of command. While I could be wrong, it is my sense that he largely has a duty to portray the war in as rosy terms as possible as long as that is what GWB orders him to do. This is particularly true as long as GWB continues to assert Cheney/Addington’s “unitary executive” BS.
    4. As I believe Douglas MacArthur said long ago, the military is good for two things: killing people and blowing shit up. Gen. Petraeus is very, very good at those two things, and is the best we’ve ever had at doing that in a guerilla war. However, to re-iterate point 2 above, he is not very good at nation-building, because that is not the responsibility of the military, and it is frankly something that is impossible to do as long as you are a foreign power.

    The point of all this is that I have a lot of sympathy for Petraeus, who is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. He was dealt a crappy hand, and I think he has played it as well as he could. However, whether we should stay in Iraq is not a military question, but a political one. As much as I respect General Petraeus, it is worth keeping in mind that his testimony is given entirely in his role as someone in Bush’s chain of command and that he is solely giving testimony as to the military situation in Iraq or at least as to the military perspective on Iraq. This is not the same as making an objective evaluation of the situation there.

  2. My last comment before sleepy time for me.

    I am largely in agreement with you, and I know if you dig deep enough here, I can try later tonight, I actually have a post that says largely the same thing. He exemplifies military culture; that’s to say, you give a military person an order, they’re not going to tell you whether or not it can be done, they’re going to keep grinding away at it until the order is rescinded.

    So you’re right, this is largely him having to shoulder a certain burden that is not supposed to be his to shoulder.

    But, as I say, I’m ever so tired of the kabuki on this whole deal.

  3. Mark says:

    On the kabuki point, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I’m just saying that I don’t blame Petraeus for being behind it, but the Bushies for putting him in that situation.

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