As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ever On The March Of War - We Ain't Leavin'

Bush needs $42 billion more to ensure that every country on Earth hates us and more of our men and women die:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration on Monday asked for an additional $42.3 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the 2008 request for total war funding to $189.3 billion.

The request comes on top of $147 billion already sought for in the wars. Most of the money goes to Iraq, which is costing the Pentagon an estimated $2 billion a week.

"Parts of this war are complicated, but one part is not -- and that is that America should do what it takes to support our troops and protect our people," President Bush said in an appearance with members of veterans groups at the White House.

Actually, that's quite complicated, because growing numbers of Americans, 70% and counting, don't believe that this occupation protects any people, least of all Americans, and that supporting the troops by holding them hostage in the middle of a civil war doesn't make any sense, either.

Unfortunately, we still have too much of a Democratic caucus that's still afraid of their own shadow. Harry Reid is claiming that this won't be a "rubber stamp," but we've been down this road before. The President is already framing it the same way he always has, equating funding the war with funding the troops, and Democrats have not even attempted to challenge that frame. Not to mention the fact that it's singularly difficult to un-fund a war from a political standpoint; it took 7 years to do it in Vietnam.

But the part that really galls me is that the key portion of St. Petraeus' testimony, the only takeaway, is about to be reneged.

In multiple public interviews after his testimony, Petraeus vowed to bring the 30,000 troops home by next summer. “[W]hat I showed on Capitol Hill…will take place,” he said on PBS. “Starting in mid-December and then ending in mid-July, the five Army brigade combat teams and two Marine battalions will redeploy,” he said in an interview with Fox News.

President Bush warmly embraced Petraeus’s plan. But it now appears Petraeus may backtrack from this central tenet of his congressional testimony. After undergoing a revision of the “classified campaign strategy” on Iraq, a senior Petraeus adviser reports that Petraeus is willing to leave the troops in Iraq depending on “the security situation on the ground”:

“Redeployments of U.S. brigades — even of the surge forces — are dependent on the security situation on the ground in Iraq. If General Petraeus early next year sees the security situation deteriorating, he will have the courage to go back to the president and say he needs to keep forces that he had planned to send home,” said Col. John R. Martin, senior adviser to Petraeus.

In other words, things are worse than you can imagine, and we have to leave endless amounts of troops in a desperate and unwinnable situation in perpetuity. So the talk of ending the surge was a rhetorical strategy designed for headlines, while this quiet reversal goes little-noticed. St. Petraeus is still a saint and must not be questioned, even though his entire testimony must now be called into question. If the security circumstances on the ground suddenly justify keeping 160,000 troops in Iraq, aren't ALL the premises of Petraeus' hearing flawed?

By the way, now the big worry is the Shiite militias. Really, I thought it was Al Qaeda in Iraq? Or the Sunni militias? Or the PKK/Turkey cross-border situation? Or the OTHER Shiite militias (are you talking about the Badr Brigade on the Mahdi Army?) or...

Never mind. The latest "threat" is a moving target, always has been. The truth is that there are several competing factions vying for power in Iraq, all of them scornful of American efforts to occupy the country. So our failure to leave fuels all sorts of violence.

My worry is that the Democrats will fund this thing but get a concession by, say, folding SCHIP into the funding request, which would be stupid. Because politically, there's much more to be gained out of bending the opposition to your will on SCHIP than folding it into an Iraq funding that many Democrats would see as another betrayal. Not to mention, the headlines on SCHIP would be dwarfed by those about the Iraq bill, so it would be a hidden victory, just like the minimum wage was.

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