Saturday, March 18, 2006

Iraq As Pretext

It no longer matters what actually takes place on the ground in Iraq.

That may sound like an odd thing to say. Indeed, it may sound stark raving counterintuitive given the avalanche of passions roiling around both sides of the issue. But it is that counterintuition that is precisely the point. Left-wing (and isolationist right-wing) opposition to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and really the larger GWOT, long since became detached from the actual facts on the ground there because the actual facts do not jibe with their ideological and partisan desires. The Left sees Iraq as the new Vietnam, period, end of story, and that's how they argue the issue. That's why their pols (like Jack Murtha) call for immediate "redeployment," that's why the Extreme Media covers nothing but the bombings and "insurgent" attacks and completely ignores all the good news and the steady progress that a country that languished under a harrowing fascist dictatorship for two generations and has never had a democratic tradition has made in just three years.

By contrast, paleocons like Pat Buchanan, and now Gerard Baker, George Will and Bill Buckley, have, for want of a better metaphor, "run out of gas," arbitrarily deciding that Iraq is "lost" and seizing upon the recent bombing of the Askariya mosque, one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines, as their disembarkation point, as if to say, "Well, that tears it, there's gonna be civil war now, so let's fold tent and go home."

Except there isn't civil war. Quite the opposite, in fact:

[T]he members of Iraq's political class have chosen hope - chosen to fight their battles at the bargaining table rather than in the streets. By doing so, they are, in fact, offering an example of what democratic institutions are intended to do. They are supposed to replace armed conflict with political negotiation conducted by those who might otherwise take up weapons to get their way....

Because of the bombs and the bloodshed, and because many critics are desperate to see President Bush discredited and disgraced, the triumph of the political class in Iraq has been little noted. But if it holds, what has happened in the past two weeks will probably be seen as a turning point - and a validation of George Bush's conviction that Iraq could eventually become a democracy.
I dare say their democratic institutions are firing on more cylinders than our own these days, what with the domestic political opposition a couple of steps short of open armed insurrection and some of its elected members unabashedly pushing for a coup de'tat against the Bush Administration. Partisan rage for which Iraq is but one, although the most prominent, template.

It's difficult to discern what else could have given rise to what might be dubbed "Misbegotten Son of the 9/11 Commission":

Congress unveiled an independent panel on Wednesday assigned to study the U.S.-led war in Iraq and to make policy recommendations for both Capitol Hill and the White House.

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group - led by former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton - is designed to focus "fresh eyes" on the war debate from people who "love their country more than their party," said Representative Frank Wolf, R-VA, during a Capitol Hill news conference....

Oh, gag me. Baker's a "realist" RINO and Hamilton was, in Cap'n Ed's delightful rant on the subject, "the man who co-chaired the Commission that managed to ignore Able Danger, arrests of Iraqi intelligence agents in Germany during the period when three of the four 9/11 pilots flew back to Hamburg , and numerous other vital facts and developments." And let his fellow Donks on that commission go Ahab on President Bush in the midst of his re-election effort.

The "love their country more than their party" is, you should pardon the expression, pretentious bullshit.

"Our purpose is to undertake a bipartisan, forward-looking assessment of the current and prospective situation on the ground in Iraq and its impact on the surrounding region, and its consequences on United States interests," said Baker, who served as the country's top diplomat in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

The group will focus on the political, military, security and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

The group is redundant and pre-emptively obsolete at best, yet another Bushophobic fishing expedition at worse. Double-H lays out the tale of the tape:

This is a terrible move, this establishment of a body that will by its very nature be second guessing an army in the field and under fire during a time of intense partisan debate. Voters rendered a verdict on Iraq in 2004 elections. They can modify that verdict in 2006 if they choose. The idea of civilians gathering to second guess the military and its strategy and the president and his leadership reminds of the country's experience with the Commmittee on Reconstruction's adventures from the post-Civil War era, the Church Committee's wonderful effects on intelligence gathering, and most recently the antics of Bob Kerrey and Richard ben Veniste on the 9/11 Commission.

These proceedings inevitably become show trials, and the new concentration of media will guarantee such a debacle unfolding quickly, with Bush's enemies in the MSM using every opportunity to bend every witness and every report into a political weapon.

I don't care who the staff is - and the staff hasn't been named, which is a very bad sign - this is a disaster for those who are serious about the war. It is a boon for the Feingolds and KosKids and every other member of the retreat and defeat caucus.

It is also a disgrace that such a "commission" was, well, "commissioned" by a supposedly "Republican" Congress. Almost as if a lot of once-staunch and stalwart Pachyderms want cover for their flight to the tall grass and away from their President based not on the facts on the ground in Iraq but the seditionist mythology spun all around it by their "colleagues" on the other side of the aisle.

Facts, however, and as the old saying goes, are stubborn things. Could the fact of incontrovertible Iraqi progess perhaps account for David Ignatius' "sudden," out-of-the-blue discovery, as if by a wave of the proverbial magic wand, that the "insurgency" has been squashed like a grape by Iraqi forces? And could the appointment of this kangaroo "commission" maybe explain why the Bush White House finally got off the schnied and started releasing the mounds of Saddamite documents on which it's been stupidly sitting for almost three years? Documents that, just so far, show that al Qaeda had a pre-war presence in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was at least aware of their recruitment of Iraqi volunteers to fight our forces in Afghanistan, and may have been actively collaborating with al Qaeda, before and after 9/11, to attack targets inside the U.S.? [See Generation Why, Stephen Hayes' latest at the Weekly Standard, and the Cap'n for more educational details]

If "a lie can get halfway 'round the world before the truth can pull its boots on," the solution is to so bury the lie with documented facts that it can't get out the door. Why it's taken the Bushies so frigging long to figure this out I'll never know. But it's the only way to consign the "anti-war" critics to irrelevancy, and make the reality on the ground in Iraq matter once again.