Everybody wants to give the team of Crocker & Petraeus credit for not lying more than they did. The Washington Post‘s Fred Hiatt was all over the Crocker half of the sketch, gushing that he “deserves credit for frankly and soberly delivering a message this week that neither his audience in Congress nor his superiors in the Bush administration wanted to hear”, blithely managing to sidestep the implication that the telling of uncomfortable truths by Administration lap-dogs is, you know, rare and kind of risky.
He was particularly encouraged by M Crocker’s comment where he claimed to be seeing “seeds of reconciliation” in Iraq’s political leaders even though he didn’t name them and conceded they weren’t “readily apparent from Washington”. Which is understandable given that Iraq’s political leaders have been throwing spitballs and each other for months and that most of them are not currently on speaking terms.
Mr Hiatt’s conclusion?
The challenge for President Bush and Congress is to bring U.S. policy in Iraq into alignment with the realities the ambassador described. Military operations predicated on the idea that an Iraqi political settlement is months rather than years away do not make sense. If the surge is to be continued — as Gen. Petraeus indicated — Mr. Bush ought to lay out realistic objectives for it. The same goes for a continued U.S. combat commitment to Iraq after the additional troops deployed for the surge are withdrawn.
In which he seems to be suggesting that we all ought to just get used to the idea of occupying Iraq for an indefinite period (10 years? 20?) since the Democrats’ idea for a fixed timetable of withdrawal is “delusional” and because it’s the Congress’ job, not to make an independent judgment, but to “bring US policy into alignment” with Crocker’s vision, whatever that might be.
Bush thinks the General of Petraeus ought to make policy, Hiatt thinks it’s the Ambassador’s job. Both think the Congress should just shut up and do as they’re told.
That’s an odd stance for a representational democracy: you know, that the Constitutionally-mandated role of Congress to approve and fund our wars should simply be turned over to generals and ambassadors at the king’s president’s beck-and-call, but Mr Hiatt has made it clear in previous editorials that he doesn’t see the US as a democracy any more anyway, so eliminating one of Congress’ main duties is no biggie to him.
One wonders where he thinks he lives now. In the 17th century under an English king, perhaps? With Congress playing the part of a powerless parliament and the people tugging their forelocks respectfully whenever ambassadors or generals ride by in their golden carriages accompanied by lackies and footmen?
It is, I suppose, refreshing, in a way, to be spared the usual folderol about “any day now” and “cakewalks” but one must admit that the sudden commitment to years and years of death and destruction for no reason even the estimable ambassador can explain is somewhat depressing. “We have to stay because we’re there” is too much like the nitwit logic that says you can’t cut your vacation short in Ruritania – even though war has broken out and people are shooting at you – because the hotel is paid for and leaving early would amount to throwing away that $400/night.
There’s a stunning reversal of priorities here that beggars description, and a logic that strains credulity: we’re sacrificing the lives of our soldiers for nothing because we’ve been sacrificing the lives of our soldiers for nothing, and so we have to go on sacrificing the lives of our soldiers for nothing because if we don’t, it will all have been for nothing.
Have I missed anything?