President George W. Bush’s campaign to stay the course in Iraq is taking a new and constitutionally dangerous turn. When Senator John Warner recently called for a troop withdrawal by Christmas, the White House did not mount its usual counterattack. It allowed a surprising champion to take its place. Major General Rick Lynch, a field commander in Iraq, summoned reporters to condemn Mr Warner’s proposal as “a giant step backwards”.
It was Maj Gen Lynch who was making the giant step into forbidden territory. He had no business engaging in a public debate with a US senator. His remarks represent an assault on the principle of civilian control – the most blatant so far during the Iraq war.
Nobody remarked on the breach. But this only makes it more troubling and should serve as prologue for the next large event in civilian-military relations: the president’s effort to manipulate General David Petraeus’s report to Congress.
Mr Bush has pushed Gen Petraeus into the foreground to shore up his badly damaged credibility. But in doing so, he has made himself a hostage. He needs the general more than the general needs him. Despite the president’s grandiose pretensions as commander-in-chief, the future of the Iraq war is up to Gen Petraeus.
The general’s impact on Congress will be equally profound. If he brings in a negative report, Republicans will abandon the sinking ship in droves; if he accentuates the positive, it is the Democrats who will be spinning.
In fact, if not in name, it will be an army general who is calling the shots – not the duly elected representatives of the American people.
And according to the NY Times, at least we don’t have to wait until the 11th:
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, has told President Bush that he wants to maintain heightened troop levels in Iraq well into next year to reduce the risk of military setbacks, but could accept the pullback of roughly 4,000 troops beginning in January, in part to assuage critics in Congress, according to senior administration and military officials.
General Petraeus’s view is considered overly cautious by some other senior military officials and some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. But they said it reflected his concern that the security gains made so far in Baghdad, Anbar Province and other areas were fragile and easily reversed.
Notice the language- “Could accept.” It is a good thing we have Generals out there to set our policies. Civilian control of the military would suck.
If there is anyone out there who honestly thought Petraeus would come to Congress on the 11th and tell us it was time for a substantial drawdown or anything other than that “the surge is working,” please surrender your car keys to someone sane. I don’t want you on the road. Bush made it clear in his interview with Draper that we are here for the long haul, and that is what is going to happen. We are going to be there, in large numbers, until the military breaks. Or longer. Just get used to it. There is nothing you can do, because the Decider has decided. The dog and pony show that comes next week is just to make things easier politically for continuing the course of action that has been chosen- the reports we may withdraw some troops were just something thrown out there to mollify the opposition before getting back to Operation “DO WHATEVER THE FUCK WE WANT.”
All of the reports of problems by independent and respected group and backed up by hard data don’t matter. Their recommendations don’t matter. All the administration needs to do is count on the Weekly Standard and Michael O’Hanlon and the rest of the crowd to go out and do what they have been doing for years, and this administration has the cover they need. And if you argue otherwise, Bush and his supporters will claim you aren’t giving our troops what they need to win. Or that it is just the liberal media reporting only bad news. Or that the Democrats want to screw the country again, just like they did in Vietnam. The fact that the GAO is now caught in the crossfire and they can smear it is just an extra bonus- they don’t like accountability in ANY form. If the GAO is collateral damage, that is just a lucky break- those guys have been a pain in the ass for Republicans the last six years.
And if you honestly thought anything different would happen, you are a complete and total idiot and have not paid one bit of attention the last few years. Welcome to permanent war, bitches.
*** Update ***
The Cunning Realist pulls it all together– if it is bad, we have to stay, if the situation is good, we have to stay. And for how long?