Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Petraeus and the Summer of Kabuki™

The natural born cynic in me has a lot to work with these days, and the material is an embarrassment of riches – in addition to just being embarrassing.

Next Tuesday the Government Accountability Office is scheduled to present to the Congress a 70-page report on the prospects for political reconciliation in Iraq. Insiders who have seen the report say it paints a very grim picture. It seems to confirm the “scorecard” of the status of Iraqi security forces that was released yesterday that concludes the Iraqis are years away from assuming responsibility for the security of their own country.

Congress is wasting no time. Indeed, they are starting hearings on the reports in the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees in advance of the Petraeus - Crocker Happy-talk Express that is supposed to be delivered the following week.

For the cynic in all of us, they have invoked clichés that would be edited out of a dime novel – Petraeus is scheduled to appear before Congress on September 11.

The atmosphere is sure to be charged, and enough congresscritters have Petraeus' number to make his appearance contentious. Especially in light of the fact that Petraeus tampered with the integrity of last weeks NIE.

The NIE, requested by the White House Iraq coordinator, Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, in preparation for the testimony, met with resistance from U.S. military officials in Baghdad, according to a senior U.S. military intelligence officer there. Presented with a draft of the conclusions, Petraeus succeeded in having the security judgments softened to reflect improvements in recent months, the official said. (emphasis added)

For his part, the Resident continued to spin yesterday. He was rhetorically high-fiving Iraqi politicians for reaching some minor agreement on Sunday, but so what? The Cabinet still does not have a quorum so it doesn’t matter. Without a quorum, it’s just so much rowing with one oar.

Politicians traipsed to Iraq all summer long in an endless parade of self-important potentate puffery, as if a few hours of being shown what you are meant to see and nothing more is an honest assessment medium!

This Summer of Kabuki™ has provided Petraeus with the opportunity to do what he does so well…stage productions. It has been like summer stock theater over there, and let's give credit where credit is due! His production values have been spectacular!

Some of the Dog-and-Pony-Shows have even been somewhat effective, as in the case of Brian Baird, Representative of Washington. He came back after a one-day fact finding fact free trip to the war zone, where, by golly, he saw enough to convince him of the necessity to give Petraeus another Friedman Unit! This did not go over well with his constituents, and at a town-hall meeting, he got a face full of claws and faced a rhetorical lashing at the hands of an angry electorate that apparently stopped just short of burning him in effigy. One constituent pulled no punches and reminded him just who the hell he works for. "We don't care what your convictions are," said Jan Lustig of Vancouver. "You are here to represent us."

Petraeus will be appearing before a congress that has been provided details about what they have done that pissed us off, and that has been told in explicit terms just what the hell is expected of them, so he is not in for a Sunday stroll to the ice cream parlor, or even an open-air market in Indiana. He has been hinting around at a decade of combat involvement in Iraq – will he mention that in his testimony before a hinky congress?

And will Congress listen to those of us who control whether they keep their jobs or not? Or will they furrow their brows and scratch their chins in a most studious manner, and then do what ever the little idiot wants, while the killing continues apace?

[Crossposted from WTWC]

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