Thursday, July 12, 2007

Iraq reality?

By Carol Gee

The reality in Iraq seems far removed from the Senate chambers in Washington, D.C. The debate is couched in terms of change vs. the status quo. But debaters have very different views of the actual reality.

Nothing in Iraq seems to be changing, from my point of view and that of the Democrats now opposing the current conduct of the war. However, Republicans arguing in favor of the war alternately claim to see progress, or warn of dire consequences with any change in course. Thus the debate is not really over what constitutes the facts on the ground. It is over which of the debaters will win the contest. Will there be a change of direction or will the status quo be maintained?

Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is looking for a few more Republican senators, disaffected by the reality of events in the war in Iraq, to vote with the Democratic majority. Their votes, when combined with solidarity within the Democratic caucus, may actually reach the magic numbers 60/66. Those are the (very optimistic) levels of majority needed to change the direction of the Bush administration's conduct of the war.

Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is looking for enough Republicans that will stick with him in maintain the status quo, blocking any Democratic action that could change the course of the war in the way that a majority of Americans appear to prefer. For the Minority it seems to be more about winning than doing what is best for the country. It echos our current president's insistence on "victory."

Two completely different realities were also briefed to the Iraq Study Group last fall, according to Bob Woodward's important piece in today's Washington Post. Headlined, "CIA Said Instability Seemed 'Irreversible'," Woodward's article analyzes in depth the disparities between what the group heard as the CIA's view (that of General Michael Hayden) of the reality in Iraq, and the views presented to the group by our current president earlier that morning. Quoting from the story,

Early on the morning of Nov. 13, 2006, members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group gathered around a dark wooden conference table in the windowless Roosevelt Room of the White House.

For more than an hour, they listened to President Bush give what one panel member called a "Churchillian" vision of "victory" in Iraq and defend the country's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. "A constitutional order is emerging," he said.

Later that morning, around the same conference table, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden painted a starkly different picture for members of the study group. Hayden said "the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible," adding that he could not "point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around," according to written records of his briefing and the recollections of six participants.

Iraq reality in today's hard news - as reported from Juan Cole's (7/12/07) Informed Comment is, as usual, chilling. His post is titled, "30 Bodies found in Baghdad Death Squad killings Spike." I quote from it,

The numbers of bodies found daily has gone up since the bombing of the Samarra shrine and the recent bombing of Shiites at Ermeli. Speaking of which, someone shot the mayor of Samarra dead on Wednesday.

. . . A new poll shows that 70% of Americans want US troops back home by spring of 2008, and only 20% think the surge is working.

. . . CNN report on the true cost of Bush's 'War on Terror'- [YouTube] must see.

Whose view of reality can we buy? Senator Reid's view of reality matches that of a majority of U.S. public opinion. Senator McConnell's view matches the Orwellian reality of his Republican president's magical thinking about Iraq: "A constitutional order is emerging."

Really?

Cross-posted at South by Southwest

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