The progress being made in training Iraqi troops to defend their own nation is about to achieve warp-drive. It’ll be nothing short of miraculous how suddenly these troops are declared by the Bush administration ready for counterinsurgency combat, even though there has been virtually no progress made along these lines in the last two and a half years.
The seedy, dishonest politics of George W. Bush, who’s about to slither out of Iraq the same way he slithered in: without a dram of honesty.
As the New York Times reported Monday: “In public, President Bush has firmly dismissed the mounting calls to set a deadline to begin a withdrawal from Iraq…. ‘When our commanders on the ground tell me that Iraqi forces can defend their freedom, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.’
“But in private conversations, American officials are beginning to acknowledge that a judgment about when withdrawals can begin is driven by two political calendars – one in Iraq and one here…. Mr. Bush is under new pressure to begin showing that troop reductions are under way before the midterm Congressional elections next year.”
In brief, Americans will soon be waving bye-bye to ill-trained, ill-equipped Iraqi troops, but only after the former have lost tens of thousands of their own to death and mutilation in the most dishonest and destined-to-fail foreign venture this nation has ever engaged. It all will have been for naught, although “Mission Accomplished II” – otherwise known as “Cut and run” – will be sold as smarmily as “Stay the course.”
Dishonesty has been the venture’s hallmark. It accounts for how we got there, how we prosecuted the war and now, how we’re about to leave.
Asked in a recent Imus interview if he believed the Bush administration lied its way into the war, the New York Times’ Frank Rich said he believed it was more a case of the White House fervently wanting to believe, for ideological reasons, the selective evidence it passed to Congress. That fervent want led to the selectivity. Team Bush didn’t “fabricate” a casus belli so much as it fell victim to ideological arrogance.
I rarely differ with Mr. Rich, but in this instance, it seemed to me, he was too generous.
When the administration failed to come clean about what German intelligence reported about the WMD-fabricating “Curveball”; when the administration failed to disclose that its own Defense Intelligence Agency had labeled as unreliable another Iraqi defector’s claims about Iraq-al Qaeda ties; and when the administration failed to reveal to Congress the immediate, post-9/11 Presidential Daily Brief in which U.S. intelligence declared no Saddam-9/11 hijackers link, then everything else it presented or implied to Congress was framed within a calculated, premeditated, sin-of-omission “fabrication.”
In fact, Mr. Rich seemed to momentarily differ with himself on the air, given that two days earlier he had written of the administration’s prewar “web of half-truths and falsehoods,” adding that our “leaders who dissembled then are still doing so.”
It’s true there’s no credible evidence that the White House stayed up nights forging documents and counterfeiting intelligence reports to support a war; hence in the strictest sense of the word there was no fabrication. But the evidentiary standard for sending men and women into battle is much, much higher. The administration knew that the paper it was passing to Congress was suspect. Plainly, it selected doomsday evidence largely for the purpose of deception – and that, without a doubt, without splitting semantic hairs, without deciphering what the meaning of “is”, is, constituted an act of fabrication in itself.
By the time American troops wave their final goodbye to those hapless Iraqis about to be devoured by a Middle East vacuum of needless civil war fathered by a criminal fabrication, another thousand or more will have died. And with all due respect to the families and loved ones of the past-and-future fallen, they will have died for a lie.