My friend Bill Crawford quotes at length today from the latest op-ed piece by the E-N’s Jonathan Gurwitz.
Jonathan contrasts the Democratic senators’ praise of Gen. Patraeus when he was tapped by Bush in January to lead U.S. forces in Iraq, with their skepticism of his testimony nine months later claiming that we have made great progress in Iraq.
That's how you get 54 senators who praise you to the heavens turn around and consign your mission to hell.
But Jonathan knows full well that these are two different things. The first issue is that Patraeus is a good, honorable soldier who follows orders well. The second issue is what those orders should be. Patraeus is perfectly capable of leading our troops to drawdown from Iraq and refocus our efforts on the real al-Qaeda in Pakistan rather than the copycat version in Iraq.
He can make recommendations on how we should proceed with the current mission, but it is up to our political leaders to decide whether we should continue to pursue that mission or change to something else.
Jonathan is also being disingenuous when he says:
If they really believed Iraq was a lost cause, they'd cut off funding for the U.S. military presence rather than passing defense budgets and supplemental appropriations with hundreds of billions of dollars for continued operations.
Of course, they have tried to pass budgets that limit funding for the war but have been unsuccessful due to Republican filibusters and veto threats.
We went into Iraq with the goal of dismantling Saddam’s WMD program - something that turned out to be non-existent - and the goals for Iraq have been constantly changing ever since. The current rationale is that we have to “defeat” al-Qaeda in Iraq, the copycat version of al-Qaeda that did not exist before we invaded. How this will protect us from attacks by the real al-Qaeda which is not in Iraq is never addressed. Neither are the cost-benefit dynamics of the operation explained. If we spend five years, $500 billion and 5,000 U.S. troop deaths to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, will it be worth it? What if it takes 10 years, $1 trillion and 10,000 U.S. casualties? What then?
But back to Jonathan’s column... He goes on to make the charge that Democrats want to accumulate power in Washington more than they want to achieve victory in Iraq.
the little Caesars in Washington have as their primary objective not losing: not losing a majority, not losing any more seats in the minority, not losing a campaign, not losing power.
How about not losing the support of the American people as President Bush has with his rock-bottom 36 percent approval rating? Congress has low approval ratings too, but that has more to do with their inability to respond to public sentiment on the war. Those “little Ceasars” are our elected representatives. While I respect Gen. Patraeus for his service to our country, he is not elected to that position and his primary job is to follow the orders of those who were elected.