Thursday, April 10, 2008

Subjects and Verbs in Iraq

This week's status report on Iraq from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker has featured more of the same: the same vaporous platitudes, the same determination to avoid any measureable definition of 'victory.' Apart from a few particulars of dates, names, and places, their claims are the same claims made month after month since at least 2004: things are getting better, but the war/occupation must continue unabated.

Here, Petraeus outlines his policy for Iraq -- funny how an army general seems to be running US foreign policy:

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 preserve the still-fragile security gains our troopers have fought so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve.

With this approach, the security achievements of 2007 and early 2008 can form a foundation for the gradual establishment of sustainable security in Iraq. This is not only important to the 27 million citizens of Iraq, it is also vitally important to those in the Gulf region, to the citizens of the United States and to the global community. It clearly is in our national interest to help Iraq prevent the resurgence of al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world, to help Iraq resist Iranian encroachment on its sovereignty, to avoid renewed ethnosectarian violence that could spill over Iraq's borders and make the existing refugee crisis even worse, and to enable Iraq to expand its role in the regional and global economies. [emphases mine]
Note the subjects and verbs in that boilerplate, several of which I've bolded: there are tasks the US has accomplished and many more Petraeus expects the US to accomplish. Nothing is clearly expected of Iraq's government -- the idea of benchmarks serving as enforcement mechanisms for the surge policy is now expressly vacated, exposed for the lie it always was. The purpose of the surge was always to continue the war so that the Bush-Cheney junta would not have to work out a responsible exit. The point was always to kick the can down the road to the next president. Dead US troops, dead Iraqis, and vast borrowed outpourings from the treasury are trifles when set against Bush-Cheney's martial virtue.

Iran and al Qaeda are actors in this, and they have been invited to continue draining blood and cash from the US indefinitely. Of course any enemy of the US can play this same game, not just Iran or al Qaeda: if only they find a way to bomb a marketplace, a government building, a stretch of highway, a hospital, a pipeline, a school, a factory, a power plant, or anything else somewhere in Iraq, then the Crocker-Petraeus "security gains" will be thereby proven "fragile," and the rationale for extending the US occupation secured.

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