Skid- Bench-marks… or “no good options”

And so, handing the President a more or less complete victory in the inter-branch urinating contest associated with funding the Iraq war, it seems that the Democratic Congressional leaders have removed provisions for troop withdrawal from the new proposed Iraq war supplemental bill, retreating from what had been significant Congressional victories in holding together on a war funding .
Well, well. Polling does show that a substantial majority of Americans oppose the Presidents handling of the Iraq war, and indeed, a substantial majority favor a troop reduction. But in practical terms, there really are only two choices with Iraq: (1) stay the course, or (2) get out, and get out now. The “timetables” are really kind of bulls***: the hope that American casualties will magically go down while our “strategic goals” (whatever they are) somehow still get met. Well… it won’t happen. It’s pick one: stay, or leave. It’s understood that leaving means leave within a few weeks (as in weeks, not years) of draw-down. And no permanent bases. Whatever shape the Iraqi government and military and police are in… is good enough. But that’s it. Leaving would mean leaving. Frankly, it’s an understandable, and defensible position. And what’s more…
I’ve reached the point where I believe that nothing George W. Bush touches as President will come out as anything other than a disaster; as such, Iraq falls into that category, and the only thing we can guarantee over the next 609 days that he’s in office as to Iraq is that he’ll make it worse, period. Why? Because he is an incompetent, mean-spirited, terrible leader, and an arrogant, superficial, uninquisitive, uninteresting and overall disagreeable human being. And btw… he is a terrible President, who, frankly, lacked the experience required for the job, and he has not grown into it. But he’s trying to do what he thinks is a decent job. The problem is, he’s not up to it. Nor are the political whores and yes-men (and yes-women) and Christianist soldier-bots he has surrounded himself with. That’s just the sad reality.
But then, notwithstanding what is not so much a rooting interest in Bush failing as a certainty that if Bush has anything to do with it, failure is inevitable, American strategic interests require a stable Middle East. There will be adverse geo-political consequences to the United States removing itself from Iraq at this juncture (not to mention a serious oil price effect with likely economic consequences). The problem, of course, is that with George W. Bush in charge, there will be adverse geo-political consequences to the United States not removing itself from Iraq… An unstable Iraq spiraling into the all-out civil war we seem determined to quell will likely invite in other regional players (Iran and Syria to be sure, Turkey probably, possibly Russia and Saudi Arabia, among others), and may well spill over into Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States… of course, millions of refugees in the region from Iraq are already destabilizing things… And as bad as things are for the Iraqi people now… things can always get even worse.
Obviously, we have no particularly good choices now… many think “the surge” isn’t working as intended; it is unclear what General Petraeus thinks– but he may well declare the situation untenable in a few months… in which case, there would be no doubt of the truth of that statement, though Bush, Cheney, Rove, et al. (backed no doubt by the Washington press establishment, the right-wing blogs and no one else– no one else at all) would dismiss even that as “partisan naysaying”, and go on as before, the lives of those serving in Iraq be damned.
So there you go. From the standpoint of “discipline”, what Harry and Louise Nancy did is doubly bad– they wasted what appeared to be a (finally!) disciplined Democratic caucus, which they may not be able to hold together too much longer, and even worse, they failed to impose discipline on the President, who will continue to enjoy a blank check to run his war as incompetently as he sees fit devoid of oversight. We won’t talk about how disappointing this is to the many voters who hoped that a Democratic Congress would at least not surrender without a fight… to see it doing just that.
However, from the standpoint of “what the hell are we doing over there…”, if the choice to be made is ultimately “stay the course until someone who doesn’t have his head up his (or her!) ass, i.e., the next Democratic President, can take charge of the military and achieve our strategic goals, unlike the current Oval-Office-Occupier…” well, the war, alas, has to be paid for, somehow, and that seems to be what these supplemental funding bills are for. But can we wait until the end of January 2009, when Bush’s exit strategy, i.e., Bush exits the White House, will take effect? There’s the $364 billion question, is it not?
Mostly, we should never have gone into Iraq in the first place: the benefits of doing so were grossly overstated, the reasons for doing so were made up, and the costs of doing so were dismissed and downplayed. (And did I mention that the opposition to it was grossly understated as well? The New York Times seemed to have a the same rooting interest in the damned war as Fox News, featuring everything from overstating Saddam’s arsenal of really bad s***, to understating how many people showed up on the coldest day in years in NYC to protest the war, that number being over 400,000 including myself, around 5% of the population of the City attacked on 9-11, taking to the streets to protest an insanely stupid military action that we knew was unrelated to that day, with the so-called liberal Times insisting it was less than 100,000, because the Republican mayor said so. But I digress.)
Ah… having gone into Iraq, we have changed the playing field and moved pieces around the chess-board; we no longer have the same options we did while Saddam was in power. Then we had at least one “not good but at least better than the others” option: continue containing, and let Saddam stabilize the neighborhood, albeit nastily, while we chipped away at the little power he had. Now… well, we just have no good options. What else can you say?
This has been Skid- Bench-marks… or “no good options”.