Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bush's War Not So Easily Stage Managed Now, Even Harder to Fight

Bushco Presents: Never Mind the Economy ~ Look Over There ~ War in Iraq! Dangerous Iranians!
Of course your Demon was paying attention to the recent Petraeus and Crocker dog and pony show of military hardware (Petraeus's chest) accompanied by smooth-talker (hardly) Ryan Crocker, Bushco's ambassador to Iraq.
I just wasn't impressed or motivated enough to comment upon it. Talk about stale. I'm not only one who thought so.
Dick Cavett, legendary talk show host, has a tart review of the performance in the NYT titled, "Memo to Petraeus and Crocker ~ More Laughs Please." Dick examines their stage presences, as well as their facility with presentations, and finds both sorely lacking: "It’s hard to imagine where you could find another pair of such sleep-inducing performers."
"Never in this breathing world have I seen a person clog up and erode his speaking — as distinct from his reading — with more 'uhs,' 'ers' and 'ums' than poor Crocker. Surely he has never seen himself talking: 'Uh, that is uh, a, uh, matter that we, er, um, uh are carefully, uh, considering.' (Not a parody, an actual Crocker sentence. And not even the worst.)

"These harsh-on-the-ear insertions, delivered in his less than melodious, hoarse-sounding tenor, are maddening. And their effect is to say that the speaker is painfully unsure of what he wants, er, um, to say.
"If Crocker’s collection of these broken shards of verbal crockery were eliminated from his testimony, everyone there would get home at least an hour earlier.
"Petraeus commits a different assault on the listener. And on the language. In addition to his own pedantic delivery, there is his turgid vocabulary. It reminds you of Copspeak, a language spoken nowhere on earth except by cops and firemen when talking to 'Eyewitness News.' Its rule: never use a short word where a longer one will do. It must be meant to convey some misguided sense of 'learnedness' and 'scholasticism' — possibly even that dread thing, 'intellectualism' — to their talk. Sorry, I mean their 'articulation.'
"I find it painful to watch this team of two straight men, straining on the potty of language. Only to deliver such . . . what? Such knobbed and lumpy artifacts of superfluous verbiage? (Sorry, now I’m doing it…)
"But I must hand it to his generalship. He did say something quite clearly and admirably and I am grateful for his frankness. He told us that our gains are largely imaginary: that our alleged 'progress' is 'fragile and reversible.' (Quite an accomplishment in our sixth year of war.) This provides, of course, a bit of pre-emptive covering of the general’s hindquarters next time that, true to Murphy’s Law, things turn sour again.
"Back to poor Crocker. His brows are knitted. And he has a perpetually alarmed expression, as if, perhaps, he feels something crawling up his leg.
"Could it be he is being overtaken by the thought that an honorable career has been besmirched by his obediently doing the dirty work of the tinpot Genghis Khan of Crawford, Texas? The one whose foolish military misadventure seems to increasingly resemble that of Gen. George Armstrong Custer at Little Bighorn?
"Not an apt comparison, I admit.
"Custer sent only 258 soldiers to their deaths."
An alert commenter adds (paraphrased), "Another reason the comparison isn't apt ~ at least Custer fought alongside his men, can't say the same for GWB."
Despite your modest Demon's unwillingness to appear to take issue with the highly literate and very urbane Mr. Cavett, there were several junctures in the otherwise boring drone-fest that I found very amusing, and indeed, laughed at loud upon hearing during the Petraeus/Crocker show, but none more than Crocker's plaintive response to a question posed by Sen. Obama.
"Not to sound like a broken record, but this is hard and this is complicated..."
"SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: I'm trying to get to an endpoint. That's what all of us have been trying to get to.
"And, see, the problem I have is, if the definition of success is so high, no traces of al-Qaida or no possibility of reconstitution, a highly effective Iraqi government, a democratic, multiethnic, multi-sectarian, functioning democracy, no Iranian influence -- at least not the kind that we don't like -- then that portends the possibility of us staying for 20 or 30 years.
"If, on the other hand, our criteria is a messy, sloppy status quo, but there's not, you know, huge outbreaks of violence, there's still corruption, but the country is struggling along, but it's not a threat to its neighbors and it's not an al-Qaida base, that seems to me an achievable goal within a measurable timeframe.
"And that, I think, is what everybody here on this committee has been trying to drive at and we haven't been able to get as clear of an answer as we would like.
"RYAN CROCKER: And that's because, Senator, it is a -- I mean, I don't like to sound like a broken record...
"SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I understand.
"RYAN CROCKER: ... but this is hard and this is complicated. I think that when Iraq gets to the point that it can carry forward its further development without a major commitment of U.S. forces, with still a lot of problems out there, but where they and we would have a fair certitude that, again, they can drive it forward themselves without significant danger of having the whole thing slip away from them again, then clearly our profile, our presence diminishes markedly."
Your Demon was also gravely amused by Sen. Biden's conclusion, after questioning Crocker, that, "I can't think of any circumstance where you fellows are likely to recommend, no matter how bad things got, where you would withdraw, but I may be mistaken. That's part of everyone's concern, at least mine."
Iran! Iran! Iran!
Another item that caught my attention was the extent to which Iran is being blamed for ~ well, everything in Iraq. The infamous Joe Lieberman and the equally infamous (Mr. Global Warming Denier) James Inhofe pursued the point with Petraeus and Crocker, and indeed, Lieberman testified for them:
"Is it fair to say that the Iranian-backed special groups in Iraq are responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands -- excuse me -- hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians?
"GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: It certainly is -- I do believe that is correct. Again, some of that also is militia elements who have been subsequently trained by these individuals, but there's no question about the threat that they pose and, again, about the way that it has been revealed more fully in recent weeks.
"SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Though we all have questions about the recent Iraqi government initiative under Prime Minister Maliki's leadership in the south in Basra, is it not possible that there's something very encouraging about that initiative, which is that it represents a decision by the Maliki government in Baghdad to not tolerate the Iranian-backed militias, essentially running wild and trying to control the south of his country?
"RYAN CROCKER: The reflection of that has been seen in the level of political unity behind the prime minister. It says -- or are more extensive than anything I've seen during my year there.
"JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma asked if Iran was trying to duplicate its influence in Lebanon, backing the Hezbollah, in Iraq.
"SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), Oklahoma: In your opening statement, you referred to, I believe, Ahmadinejad making the statement that, if something happens, that we leave precipitously, that there would be a vacuum, and he would fill that vacuum. Do either of you want to comment on what would happen if they were to fill that vacuum?
"RYAN CROCKER: Because the general level of violence is down, we could see, I think, much more sharply defined what Iran's role is in the arming and equipping of these extremist militia groups.
"And what it tells me is that Iran is pursuing, as it were, a Lebanization strategy, using the same techniques they used in Lebanon to co-opt elements of the local Shia community, and use them as, basically, instruments of Iranian force.
"That also tells me, sir, that, in the event of a precipitous U.S. withdrawal, the Iranians would just push that much harder."
If you're interested in this debate and all for expanding the war into Iran (I'm not) I urge you not to overlook the second page where Retired Gen. Odem, now Yale professor (who, as I recall, was practically forced to retire because Bushco can't abide anyone in the ranks who has the cajones to disagree with its insane pre-fixed war-mongering policy) and Republicon New American Century/American Enterprise Institute "military historian" Frederick Kagan go at it. Here's a taste:
"GEN. WILLIAM ODOM (Ret.), U.S. Army: The uncomfortable truth is beginning to dawn on them. The surge has sustained military instability and achieved nothing in political consolidation.

"Allowing these sheiks in the Sunni areas and other strongmen to sign up with the United States to be paid, where we protect them from Maliki's government, diffuses power, both political and military.

"The possibilities for the Shiite camp to break up have been there all along. Sadr's forces, his Mahdi Army, were standing by to see what would happen. Maliki, against the best advice of both Ambassador Crocker and Petraeus, General Petraeus, went ahead, rushed down, and got into a fight in Basra, which he lost.

"Now that is a huge political setback for Maliki, and it shows you how fractured the Shiite camp is, not to speak of the multi fractures within the Shiite-Sunni area.

"So the things are much worse now. And I don't see that they'll get any better. This was foreseeable a year, a year-and-a-half ago. And to continue to put the cozy veneer of comfortable half-truth on this is to deceive the American public and to make them think it's not the charade it is."
And finally, your Demon's choice for the most amusing testimony of the bore-fest that was the Senate hearings otherwise: Republicons switching sides & now falling all over themselves to NOT be associated with the failed "war on terra." (See PBS Online Newshour transcript).
Now my vote for biggest omission in the tragi-comedy the whole mess has become ~ the 800-lb. gorilla in the room that Petraeus and Crocker allude to in only the vaguest of terms ~ and that is the fact that there's been NO progress on the Iraqi oil-revenue sharing law that would give foreign interests (read US) a guaranteed cut of the pie, and would also be my choice for the reason we're hedging our bets by supporting (read throwing money at) anyone in Iraq who will accept it, even if they oppose the "official" government we had a hand in installing. Way to go, Bushco! No wonder the Iranians have the moral upper hand in so many Iraqis' minds.
On March 17 (last month) this report appeared in the UPI:
"Charles Ries, U.S. State Department minister for economic affairs and coordinator for economic transition in Iraq, said the proposed law isn't necessary for Iraq to produce oil 'but it would clearly be much, much better and incentivize private investment to help Iraq produce more if a bill would pass.'
"U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is in Iraq Monday and said he's pressing Iraqi leaders to move the controversial legislation forward.Ries said Iraq has set aside $2.5 billion for Technical Support Agreements over the next two years. TSAs, being negotiated with BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total, would see a transfer of technology, expertise and training to Iraq's oil sector.Further down the road, Ries said Iraq will sign production-sharing agreements to develop areas not currently producing."
First things first: the Neocon strategy is clear to me ~ invade on a trumped-up pretext (9/11! Al Queda! 9/11! Al-Queda! They need and want democracy even if they don't know it!), persuade them to part with their oil, and then we'll think about leaving. Even more so now that we've made world-class asses of ourselves in eyes of even our allies.



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