08 April 2008

Tossing Words Around ~ "Success" & "Failure" in Iraq

This probably is just a first installment. You can find transcripts of the opening remarks at the Senate Hearings today by Petraeus, Crocker, Levin, & McCain from various on-line sources. Here are some of the good bits:
"I said in September that I cannot guarantee success in Iraq.
That is
still the case, although I think we are now closer. I
remain convinced
that a major departure from our current
engagement would bring
failure, and we have to be clear with
ourselves about what failure
would mean."
~ Ambassador Ryan Crocker
"The emergence of Iraqi volunteers to help secure their local
communities has been an important development. As this chart
depicts, there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq, Shia as well as
Sunni, under contract to help coalition and Iraqi forces protect
their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads.

These volunteers have contributed significantly in various
areas, and the savings and vehicles not lost because of reduced
violence, not to mention the priceless lives saved have far
outweighed the costs of their monthly contracts.

Sons of Iraq have also have contributed to the discovery of
improvised explosive devices and weapons and explosive
caches. As this next chart shows, in fact we have already
found more caches in 2008 than we found in all of 2006.

Given the importance of the Sons of Iraq, we're working
closely with the
Iraqi government to transition them into
the Iraqi security forces or other
forms of employment. And
over 21,000 have already been accepted into
the police or
army or other government jobs."
~ General Petraeus
"After weighing these factors, I recommended to my chain
of command that we continue the drawdown in the surge to
the combat forces and that upon the withdrawal of the last
surge brigade combat team in July, we undertake a 45-day
period of consolidation and evaluation. At the end of that
period, we will commence a process of assessment to
examine the conditions on the ground and over time
determine when we can make recommendations for further
reductions. This process will be continuous, with
recommendations for further reductions made as
conditions permit.

This approach does not allow establishment of a set
withdrawal timetable,
however it does provide the
flexibility those of us on the ground need to
the still-fragile security gains our troopers have fought
so far and
sacrifice so much to achieve."
~ General Petraeus

" . . . [W]hile the job of bringing security to Iraq is not finished,
as the recent fighting in Basra and elsewhere vividly
demonstrated, we're no longer staring into the abyss of defeat
and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success.
Success, the establishment of a
peaceful, stable, prosperous,
democratic state that poses no threats
to its neighbors and
contributes to the defeat of terrorists
, this success is within
reach. And with success, Iraqi forces can take responsibility
for enforcing security in their countries, and American
troops can return home with the honor of having secured
their country's interests at great personal costs and of helping
another people achieve peace and self-determination. That's
what I hope every American desires for our country in our
mission in Iraq. Yet should the United States instead choose
to withdraw from Iraq before adequate security is established,
we will exchange for this victory a defeat that is terrible and
long-lasting. Al Qaeda in Iraq would proclaim victory
and increase its efforts to provoke sectarian tensions, pushing
for a full-scale civil war that could descend into genocide and
destabilize the Middle East. Iraq would become a failed state.
It could become a haven for terrorists to train and plan their
operations. Iranian influence would increase substantially in
Iraq and encourage other countries to seek accommodation
with Tehran at the expense of our interests.

An American failure would almost certainly require us to
return to Iraq or draw us into a wider and far, far costlier war.
If, on the other hand, we and the Iraqis are able to build on the
opportunity provided by recent successes, we have the chance
to leave in Iraq a force for stability and freedom, not conflict
and chaos. In doing so, we will . . .

Disruption by protesters ]

. . . If, on the other hand, we and the Iraqis are able to build
on the
opportunity provided by recent successes, we have the
chance to leave
in Iraq a force for stability and freedom, not
conflict and chaos. In doing so,
we will ensure that the terrible
price we have paid in the war, a price that
has made all of us
sick at heart, has not been paid in vain. Our troops can
behind a successful mission, and our nation can leave behind
a country
that contributes to the security of America and
the world."
~ Candidate McCain
MY (top-of-the-head) NOTES::

McCain is hallucinating if he thinks we will come anywhere close to his definition of "success" ( in italics) and, of course, his definition of failure looks an awful lot like what we already have created (e.g., al Sadr already is taking marching orders from the Iranians who apparently have greater influence in Iraq than does the U.S. ...). Al of that said, McCain, unlike the various bullshitters and liars in the Bush administration, has at least spelled out what "success" might actually look like!

We are, according to testimony today by Petraeus, spending $16 MILLION per MONTH paying the "Sons of Iraq" not to attack us. According to The New York Times: "The term refers to armed Iraqi civilians, most of them Sunni Arabs, manning checkpoints and doing security and other work for the American-led coalition or the official Iraqi security forces. They are something of a hybrid between militiamen and security contractors." The point? These people are not "volunteers" as Petraeus claims.

The "recommendation" Petraeus has made is littered with euphemisms and intentional vagueness. It is a wonderful example of the uses of ambiguity to avoid making any commitment. The bottom line? This is his bid for a wholly open-ended commitment of U.S. troops to Iraq.

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