Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Iraq's Cruelest Month Coming Up

Next week, against a backdrop of cherry blossoms on the Potomac, we will get the latest Petraeus-Crocker production of "Blood and Sand" for an audience of the hollow men and women in both houses of Congress.

When they get here, the General and the Ambassador will no doubt give us another suave performance to explain the latest twist in the Mideast theater of the absurd--how our Iraqi lawmakers have been in Iran appealing to the head of the Revolutionary Guard, branded a terrorist organization by Congress last August, to persuade Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop killing people in Baghdad and Basra.

If all this feels like being trapped in an endless Pinter play, consider the recent monologues of Andrew Cordesman, one of our most knowledgeable observers. Last summer, describing Iraq as "three dimensional chess in the dark while someone is shooting at you," he made a cautious case for starting to withdraw troops early this year. A month ago, another trip to Iraq and Afghanistan persuaded him that "these are wars that can still be won" if we stay another decade or more.

Today Cordesman describes "worrisome possibilities" that could deny us "victory" in Iraq--the cooperating Sunni tribes and militias could turn against the central government, ethnic conflicts to control territory in the north could lead to fighting in Kirkuk, Mosul and other areas and the political struggle between the dominant Shiite parties could become an armed conflict. (Could? Check the headlines.)

In 2004, as a division commander, Gen.Petraeus was asking a question to which he clearly had no answer, “Tell me how this ends.” Last year, he was telling us that "we can't shoot our way out of Iraq." No matter what he has to say now, how do we persuade him and Congress to stop sleepwalking with Bush toward the edge of another precipice?


GRCOH said...

None of this matters. Not the people in Congress. Not the generals in Iraq. Not the ambassadors in foreign service. Not unrest in Iran. Not unrest in Afghanistan.

The only thing that matters is what matters to our Decider.

Neither you nor I nor anyone we know can change that. If you just expect the worst, then whatever happens, you won't be in for a letdown.

As our next Decider says, "So?"

Yellow Dog Don said...

Trapped in a Pinter play? How about Alice in Wonderland?

General Petraeus now has Chalabi as an adviser.

You may remember Chalabi's association with "Curveball", the discredited CIA source whose assertions of WMD, were used by your Decider to get us into this mess.