WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 — With American military successes outpacing political gains in Iraq, the Bush administration has lowered its expectation of quickly achieving major steps toward unifying the country, including passage of a long-stymied plan to share oil revenues and holding regional elections.Now, the focus has shifted to smaller, short-term goals - like authorizing a budget for the nation. (But the Iraqis are already in the process of doing that anyway.)
Instead, administration officials say they are focusing their immediate efforts on several more limited but achievable goals in the hope of convincing Iraqis, foreign governments and Americans that progress is being made toward the political breakthroughs that the military campaign of the past 10 months was supposed to promote.
And of course, the Bush maladministration is all hot and bothered to get the U.N. mandate that authorizes the presence of the American occupiers renewed. (They do this routinely because it's a puppet government that would not exist for more than thirty days if the Americans weren't propping them up.)
And de-de-baathification, so members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party can reenter government service. (That's merely pro forma - former Baathists have been rehired on the q.t. for some time, because they are the ones who actually know how to, you know, do the jobs.)
The administration insists that they have not given up on their larger goals, averring that they will be met *eventually.* But damnit, they have to figure out a way to make lemonade, and do it pronto.
They sold the AEI's Surge™ scheme by packaging it as a necessity, needed to give the political process "breathing space" to achieve reconciliation. Tours were extended, leaving soldiers in combat for 15 months with only 12 months dwell-time. They sacrificed American lives like they meant nothing. And the Iraqi parliament went on vacation the entire month of August.
Tony "Karma's a Bitch" Snow excused the fecklessness of the Iraqi politicians with a blasé "It's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August," conveniently forgetting that his war-criminal boss sent American fighting forces into that hellhole, and they didn't even get the benefit of operating in an air conditioned Green Zone when it was 130 degrees.
But reconciliation didn't happen.
In fact, Maliki and Hashemi snipe at one another like two bleached-blond teenage girls vying for head cheerleader in a one-high-school Texas football town.
Instead of sucking it up and admitting that things didn't work as planned, they are insisting that modest steps such as these - if taken soon - could, maybe, perhaps, if they cross their fingers and say the right magic words in just the right order and cadence, perhaps while hopping on one foot and chanting "I believe" - set the stage for "more progress." You know - like the Surge™ set the stage for the arming of the Sunni thugs who in the past were the insurgents who were killing Americans. (Well, give 'em guns and money and you can rent some temporary loyalty...)
But not to fear! aWol is "applying pressure" on the Iraqi government to produce some sort of political progress. “If we can show progress outside of the security sector alone, that will go a long way to demonstrate that we are in fact on a sustainable path to stability in Iraq,” said one senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity. On Saturday, [U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan] Crocker said the military had created opportunities for progress, and added that there were "indications" that Iraqis wanted to move forward on the local and national levels. But he quickly dialed back the expectations and cautioned against expecting quick results on the core issues.
“We are seeing encouraging signs of movement. This is going to be a long, hard slog,” he said, apparently channeling Rumsfeld, "It is going to be one thing at a time, maybe two things at a time, we hope with increasing momentum,” he said. “It is a long-term process.”
Although violence has ticked downward in recent months, the administration has not touted this development, because if they did, scrutiny would surely follow, and that they certainly don't want.
Furthermore, there are clear signs that any influence Americans have over Iraqi politicians is dwindling. In the absence of religious and ethnic reconciliation, the expectation has been dialed back to "accommodation." An American official, again speaking on condition of anonymity, said “We can’t pass their legislation. We can’t make them like each other. We can’t even make them talk to each other."
Crocker at least realizes that “The political stuff does not lend itself to sending out a couple of battalions to help the Iraqi’s pass legislation.” Still, he insisted that there are some positive signs that Iraqis are interested in making their own headway. For example, he pointed to Provincial governors, who are pressing for a law to define their powers. “We are past the point where it is an American agenda,” the ambassador said. “It is what needs to be done in Iraqi terms.” (In plain English - this is how warlords are made.)
Officials in both Baghdad and Washington are both realistic about the fact that military gains are not enough to overcome the deep divides that separate Iraqi factions. But in both capitals there are leaders who still engage in magical thinking. “We need a grand bargain among all the groups,” said a member of the Iraqi government - speaking - you guessed it - anonymously.
The most disturbing part of the whole thing is the repeated references to "long hard slogs" and the allusions to extended, multi-year commitments of American forces, like it's no big deal. But it is a big deal. Maybe not to these worthless, faithless and feckless jackals who have nothing to lose. But to the rest of us, it sure as hell is.And if you agree, vote Democratic. Give the congress a Democratic president, and just as importantly the votes to end the obstruction of the Republican wingnuts who have no qualms about obstructing progress at the expense of American lives.
George aWol Bush has made the biggest mess the world has ever seen, and intends to keep the fucking up going apace and leave a mess so dire that the next president won't be able to extract us from.
Don't let him get away with it. Congress holds the pursestrings. Not one dime without strings attached. Not one dime.