President Obama’s troop withdrawal deadlines continue to vanish like a blind dowager’s silverware.
At his June 15 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, “King David” Petraeus fainted like Blanche DuBois when inquisitors from both sides of the aisle tried to wedge him into saying that he thought President Obama’s July 2011 withdrawal date for Afghanistan was a moronic idea even though he fully supported it.
Petraeus didn’t take long to redeploy from his endorsement of Obama’s policy. At the June 29 confirmation circus that made him the new top Banana in the Bananastans*, Petraeus and his allies on the committee returned with a new script that was polished to a spit shine and loaded with combat-ready talking points.
Petraeus allowed to the committee as how poor old Obama, as elected official in chief, had to take into account sticky issues like campaign promises so as to suck up to the liberals who put him in office, the kind of thing real men like generals don’t have to worry about.
When ranking war pug John McCain asked Petraeus on cue if there had been “a recommendation from you or anyone in the military that we set a [drawdown] date of July 2011?” Petraeus took a beat and replied, “There was not.” To ensure that anyone who might have a shorter attention span than his got his point, McCain followed up with, “There was not – by any military person that you know of?” “Not that I’m aware of,” Petraeus answered. A regular Abbott and Costello, those two were.
McCain’s Mayberry-boy sidekick Lindsey Graham joined the act and told Super Dave, “This is all not your problem to fix.” The withdrawal date issue is a “political problem,” Opie opined. “Somebody other than you came up with this whole July get out of Afghanistan deadline, and I think it’s all politics. But that’s just me.” (Please, Paw, can we never have to listen to Lindsey Graham again ever? Please, Paw? Please?)
Petraeus decreed that July 2011 would mark the beginning of a “process” that would lead to a “responsible drawdown.” Petraeus said the 2011 date is not the date the U.S. will be “looking for the light switch to turn it off.” By paraphrasing Obama’s think-tanked statement that the U.S. would not be “switching off the lights,” Petraeus signaled that the president and his velvet junta generals are in rigid lockstep.
Counterinsurgency experts and other charlatans now guess that Afghan forces may be able to fight without bringing hired goons along by 2014, an estimate so optimistic that Pollyanna would look askance at it. Moreover, as Doyle McManus of the L.A. Times observes, Petraeus now says that the July 2011 date only applies to the 30,000 “surge” troops Obama approved last year, not to the 70,000 troops who were already there. Even at that, Petraeus says his support of withdrawing the surge troops will depend on “conditions that we hoped we’d obtain,” whatever on earth they might be.
On July 3, as he took command of the Bananastans theater of war, Petraeus declared that we’re in a “contest of wills” and our “clear objective” is to win. That’s super, Dave. So we’re in a contest to see if we have the will to stay in a country we don’t belong in longer than the people who do belong in it, and we’re committed to an objective that can’t be achieved because there’s nothing in Afghanistan to actually win. This follows the prime directive of the Long War policy; we can’t win any of our wars, but since the loser decides when the war is over, we can’t lose as long as we don’t quit, and since the other guys can’t quit, our wars can go on forever.
That’s the precise stratagem Petraeus used in Iraq, where he was so successful at not achieving the political reconciliation that the surge was supposed to enable that the Obama administration recently sent Vice President Joe Biden there to try to smooth things over. Talk about last-ditch efforts. Sending Biden on a diplomatic mission is like trying to douse a fire with lighter fluid. What, they couldn’t get John Bolton?
Meanwhile, our commander in Iraq, Ray “The Thing” Odierno, is floating the possibility of a UN peacekeeping force to replace U.S. troops in the country’s northern region where there’s no end in sight to the duke-’em-out between Arabs and Kurds. Odie has said some pretty dumb things in the past. It’s as if there’s no buffer between his medulla oblongata and his vocal cords; his ideas seem to spring from his deep subconscious and lunge straight into a microphone. At first glimpse, the notion that a brigade or so of UN sad sacks can accomplish what we have failed to do for seven years and change seems profoundly witless, even for the Desert Ox.
But under the surface is Ray’s on-the-record ambition – one that the rest of the Long Warmongers share – to delay the fat lady from singing in Iraq by keeping 30,000 or so U.S. troops in Iraq until at least 2014 (funny how that year keeps popping up). Nobody in the Pentagon took the December 2011 exit deadline in the status of forces agreement seriously when the document was signed at the end of 2008. Both Odierno and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen winked and nudged about how the agreement could be renegotiated, and Odierno smirked to reporters that “Three years is a very long time.”
There’s little doubt that the Pentarchs could have bullied the Iraqi government into extending the SOFA indefinitely. But as Biden’s recent bungled boondoggle to Iraq reminded everyone, Iraq doesn’t have a government for the Pentarchs to bully right now. It may not be able to form one by the end of 2011, and if it does it may not form a government as pliant as our military brass would like. So a possible fix is to see if we can get another UN mandate to stay in Iraq to protect those blue-helmeted peacekeeper bozos who will be the same I Suck At Fighting NATO allies we’re dealing with in the Bananastans.
The most recently telegraphed signal of the Pentarchy’s intentions came from Gen. George Casey, who was removed as commander in Iraq to make room for Petraeus and who was made Army chief of staff in return for stifling his objections to the Iraq surge. On July 9 Casey made a public statement that we are “likely to be fighting” in Afghanistan and Iraq for another decade “or so.”
Obama and his generals appear determined to drive America off a Khyber cliff, and you can bet the last dollar we borrow from China that the hawks in Congress, led by the ménage de guerre of McCain, Graham, and their gal-pal Joe Lieberman, will support the Pentagon’s “persistent conflict” until our nation goes splat at the bottom of the gorge.
*The Bananastans are Afghanistan and Pakistan, our banana republics in Central Asia.