Laying a Golden Egg
Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post say that a positive report from Iraq might split the Democrat Congress "and impede ... efforts to press for a timetable to end the war".
[House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.)]Clyburn noted that Petraeus carries significant weight among the 47 members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. Without their support, he said, Democratic leaders would find it virtually impossible to pass legislation setting a timetable for withdrawal. ...
Many Democrats have anticipated that, at best, Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would present a mixed analysis of the success of the current troop surge strategy, given continued violence in Baghdad. But of late there have been signs that the commander of U.S. forces might be preparing something more generally positive. Clyburn said that would be "a real big problem for us." ...
Clyburn also address the reasons behind declining approval ratings for Congress, which spiked earlier in the year when Democrats took over the House and Senate. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed just 37 percent approving of the performance of Congress.
The Washington Post story is a sad example of how events are politicized. In a complex event like a military campaign, there will be ups and downs, good days and bad days. New enemies may join the conflict. Others may drop out. Fortune and technological discovery can change the course of events. During the Second World War, Stalin was once Hitler's ally; then later his most implacable foe. Up until 1942 the Second World War went one way and after that it went another. But if Germany had developed the Atomic Bomb first it may have gone yet another. Nothing was "official" until V-J Day. But in Washington DC nothing has a life apart from the official partisan view. Not even the sun shines. Instead it is assigned a shadow existence, fitted into a narrative, and tortured into a Procrustean bed of arbitrary political specification.
The US campaign in Iraq is probably one of the most complex campaigns in military history. It is an event fundamentally unsuited to facile political characterization. And I am afraid that, if General Petraeus' efforts meet with some success, what was officially a "bad" war -- after first having been a "good war" -- will become a "good war" again, as politicians anxiously reposition themselves according to the latest polls. Iraq will become, whatever it is, exactly what the politicians want it to be. And that's bad. Because the one thing that Gen Petraeus is doing right -- if he is doing anything right at all -- is adapting; moving through the OODA loop faster than his enemies and unfettered by restricting shibboleths and doctrinal dogma. Success is based on seeing things as they are as opposed to viewing them through political lenses. In some sense you have to see things different from Washington to have a snowball's chance in Hell.
While Democrat support for creating political reform in the Muslim world, starting with Iraq would be welcome, however reluctant, it would be still more welcome if it were based on a sound assessment of the situation rather than politics. Much has been written about foreign quagmires. But perhaps the mother of all bogs is the really the domestic slough of talking points which clutch at our faculties in so many constricting ways. On both sides of the political aisle.
Flexibility and quickness in both kinetic and information warfare is probably behind much of recent successes in Iraq. Let's not kill the goose that laid the Golden Egg.