Perpetual War: What Happened in in August?


I must have missed a meeting. Junior In April:

One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we are asking questions, is, ‘Can you ever win the war on terror?’ Of course you can.

Junior on July 14:

I have a clear vision and a strategy to win the war on terror.

But between July 14 and last Saturday, something must have changed:

I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.

Scott McClellan rushed in to explain that what Junior was really doing ‘was speaking about winning the war “in the conventional sense” and that his comments underscored the reality that ridding the world of terrorists would take decades.’

“I don’t think you can expect that there will ever be a formal surrender or a treaty signed like we have in wars past,” Mr. McClellan said. “That’s what he was talking about. It requires a generational commitment to win this war on terrorism.”

Not with a pitchfork and a backhoe could you pry that out of Junior’s statement without doing violence to the language, but never mind. Has something happened since July 14 that has shaken Bush’s fabled unshakable, unchangeable mind? Did the truth slip out accidentally (the only way you ever get it from this Administration)? Or has there been a sea-change in their policy that, as usual, they didn’t bother to let us in on?

Question #1: What happened since July 14?

Well, the second cock-up over al Sadr. Eric Martin at Total Information Awareness uses Eric Alterman to connect the dots.

And how does the current administration fare by this standard? Not well, alas. Although the press has been loathe to admit as much, the American military has in essence given up on several strategic objectives in Iraq, pulling troops out of what may have been a winnable fight. Take the siege of Fallujah by 1,200 Marines in April. After fighting street by street with insurgents for about two weeks (at the cost of 36 American lives) the United States halted the siege on the condition that the militants hand over their heavy weapons – which they failed to do. The Marines waited outside the city for another two weeks before pulling out, handing a victory to the insurgents and leaving the city in the hands of religious extremists.

The failure in Fallujah was monumental, and one that continues to imperil the Iraq mission as a whole. Fallujah has become the central planning location for the Sunni led faction of the insurgency. Without Fallujah, there will be no stability, just a continuation of the suicide bomb attacks and assassinations that have so plagued the progress of stability.I suppose it’s at least possible that something of the reality of the situation in Fallujah finally penetrated Junior’s stubborn, C-average brain and that’s he’s beginning to realize–a little late–that it’s easier to start wars than it is to control their aftermath. With any luck, maybe it’s dawning on him that this is one of those complicated problems for which there are no simple, soundbite solutions. Possible, but I ain’t holding my breath.

Question #2: Did the truth slip out accidentally?

More likely. He did the interview on his own, and that’s always dangerous. He forgets what he is or isn’t supposed to say, and if Little Dick isn’t there to remind him, he forgets what he was trying to say and he gets confused.

Question #3: Has there been a sea-change in their policy?

Yes–and No. ‘Yes’ politically; ‘No’ every other way.

I think what we’re seeing here are the first tentative steps toward what they will be saying after the election if Junior wins. The Republicans win when they run on ‘security’ and ‘stength’. They love to run on a ‘war platform’, even though this is only the second time in the past hundred years that they’ve actually had to run the war itself, so it was inevitable that they would come to the conclusion that a perpetual war means perpetual power for them.

The second Bush Admin will begin to talk about how long the WOT is going to last and get us used to the idea that we may never win it, adding, of course, that we don’t even have a chance of winning it unless the Pubs stay in. If they don’t cancel elections altogether because they’re ‘too dangerous in wartime’, they’ll run forever on the Forever War. We will always be in danger (they’ll see to that by keeping the global pot boiling over persuing policies, as they are now, that are guaranteed to produce even more terrorists) and we will therefore always need them to protect us.

It’s a good strategy, worthy of Machiavelli and George Orwell. It may work.

Of course, it may also blow up in their faces.

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