Sunday, April 13, 2008

NYT’s Rich: Petraeus/Crocker Show is Dead

And the reason it’s dead is because Americans are so sick of the Repubs’ war in Iraq that they don’t even want to hear about it. Today, the New York Times Sunday Op/Ed Columnist Frank Rich said (“The Petraeus-Crocker Show Gets the Hook”) that even if John McCain becomes president, the US will have a new policy as soon as next January, including serious troop withdrawals in Iraq and serious talks with Iraq’s pals in Iran. The part about the possibility that McCain might become Prez is a horror I can’t even remotely entertain, but Rich is right about everything else. Iraq has come to mean guilt and shame to Americans. As a nation, we want out. In addition to wanting to have done with a war that most Americans feel should never have happened, the US can’t sustain the war and also have even a semblance of readiness to engage in other threats that may arise. As Rich says, “No war can be fought indefinitely if the public has irrevocably turned against it.” And this public has turned against it. The Senior US Commander in Iraq David Petraeus and American ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker looked ridiculous and sounded like robots repeating nonsense phrases and meaningless sophistry at the Congressional hearings last week. Rich said, “The best General Petraeus could muster was a bit of bloodless Beltway-speak — ‘national interests’ — followed by another halfhearted attempt to overstate Iraq’s centrality to the war on Al Qaeda and a future war on Iran. He couldn’t even argue that we’re on a humanitarian mission on behalf of the Iraqi people. That would require him to acknowledge that roughly five million of those people, 60 percent of them children, are now refugees receiving scant help from either our government or Nuri al-Maliki’s. That’s nearly a fifth of the Iraqi population — the equivalent of 60 million Americans — and another source of our shame. “The prevailing verdict on the Petraeus-Crocker show is that it accomplished little beyond certifying President Bush’s intention to kick the can to January 2009 so that the helicopters will vacate the Green Zone on the next president’s watch. That’s true, but by week’s end, I became more convinced than ever that in January we’ll have a new policy that includes serious withdrawals and serious conversations with Mr. Maliki’s pals in Iran, even if John McCain becomes president.” And both Colin Powell and the army’s vice chief of staff General Richard Cody said the current troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be continued. Even a Republican prez will find he can’t sustain vetoes, Rich said, “after the Democrats increase their majorities in Congress in November.” And that’s pretty much where it’s at. Or as Rich put it, “Unable to even look at the fiasco anymore, the nation is now just waiting for someone to administer the last rites.”

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