Monday, September 10, 2007

Petraeus and the Phantom Report.

Today is the day that General David Petraeus will release his report on Iraq to Congress (and by extension, the American media). I'm sure that somewhere, somehow there is someone waiting in intense anticipation. Meanwhile much of the United States is experiencing Iraqi War fatigue. They simply don't want to hear anymore abut it. Others are so jaded and cynical at this point that they will view anything Petraeus says with skepticism. Count me as part of the latter group. There is already so much indication that this event is merely another flaccid step in a drawn out campaign of perception management.

Initially, after the media first heard that Petraeus would be reporting on the success of the "troop surge" policy, some political observers thought that an accurate depiction of the condtions in Iraq was possible. For some reason many would have been willing to invest their trust and confidence in the military leader in charge of the operations over there. Surely he wouldn't lie to the people. What would his motivation be for deceit? Then we found out that the White House itself was going to ghost-write the report and presentation. Now it appears that Petraeus isn't even expected to deliver a written report to the president. Any interest I had in following this particular thread in the story quickly evaporated. In retrospect I believe it was naive for anyone to think that we could get an accurate representation of what's happening on the ground from anyone involved in this misadventure.

When Bush first proposed an increase in troop levels, both the political opposition and the American people expressed their extreme wariness over the idea. But in a misguided effort to "go along to get along", the funding was passed for the "new strategy". We already know the administration's perspective on the efficacy of the move. They keep shoving Anbar Province in our faces, as if it were demonstrative of actual progress happening all over Iraq. Of course that is untrue- if a wave of stability were sweeping over the besieged nation, then surely we would have an entire list of places... instead of just one. No, the Iraqi government has not met the benchmarks that Dubya said he would hold them accountable for, and now there is talk of disbanding the entire Iraqi police contingent. There's even been low level whisperings of getting rid of Iraq's "democratically-elected" president. By now there were supposed to be 150,000 native security forces up and running in the country. Independent reports suggest that there are approximately 3000 well-trained men ready to do the job.

Not even Petraeus can make the claim that overall sectarian violence has been diminished by the surge. You won't hear him bragging about the condition of Baghdad. And there is no way he's going to say that we can start pulling American troops out. The most we could possibly expect would be 4000 troops out by December. That's a little more than 10% of the extra number we sent in a bit more than six months ago. But the intention of the Bush administration is especially problematic. The unspoken reality is that we can't maintain current troop levels after next spring. We just don't have the numbers. Are we going to institute a draft in a presidential election year?

There are in fact a lot of questions that will go unanswered this afternoon. Furthermore, there are too many questions not even being addressed by the media. We can start off with a simple one- "What the fuck is the point of any of this?" What is our objective ? A perpetual military presence? If not, then why are we even now constructing new permanent bases over there? Why are we doing that? Is it to protect the private corporations and military contractors that want to do business in Iraq? The American citizenry has every right to know the answer. But instead we are getting answers to questions that we never asked. I want to know what our longterm strategy is in the Middle East. I want to see a nationwide dialogue about the alternative directions we could take. Because the American people aren't getting anything out of the current policy. Because there are more terrorists for each day we stay in the region. Because we are handicapped by our reliance on fossil fuels from the Middle East. Because the Bush Administration is burdening us with an exorbitantly growing national debt. Just say it once without all the bullshit.

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