The talking point got picked up by the Republicans in the House committee where the general was testifying and used as a distraction so that they could yet again draw attention away from the fact that things really do suck in Iraq. As much as he tried to, the general really couldn't polish a turd.
The New York Times put it more delicately:
The headline out of General Petraeus’s testimony was a prediction that the United States should be able to reduce its forces from 160,000 to 130,000 by next summer. That sounds like a big number, but it would only bring American troops to the level that were in Iraq when Mr. Bush announced his “surge” last January. And it’s the rough equivalent of dropping an object and taking credit for gravity. The military does not have the troops to sustain these high levels without further weakening the overstretched Army and denying soldiers their 15 months of home leave before going back to war.Not everyone on the right is buying the bill of goods. George F. Will, not exactly a fan of MoveOn.org, says that by President Bush's own standards the surge has failed.
Many of those who insist that the surge is a harbinger of U.S. victory in Iraq are making the same mistake they made in 1991 when they urged an advance on Baghdad, and in 2003 when they underestimated the challenge of building democracy there. The mistake is exaggerating the relevance of U.S. military power to achieve political progress in a society riven by ethnic and sectarian hatreds. America's military leaders, who are professional realists, do not make this mistake.MoveOn.org did the Bush apologists, the neocons, and the rest of the warmongers a favor: they provided them with a distraction: the Republicans in the House are introducing a resolution to condemn MoveOn.org.
The progress that Petraeus reports in improving security in portions of Iraq is real. It might, however, have two sinister aspects.
First, measuring sectarian violence is problematic: The Washington Post reports that a body with a bullet hole in the front of the skull is considered a victim of criminality; a hole in the back of the skull is evidence of sectarian violence. But even if violence is declining, that might be partly because violent sectarian cleansing has separated Sunni and Shiite communities. This homogenization of hostile factions -- trained and armed by U.S. forces -- may bear poisonous fruit in a full-blown civil war.
Second, brutalities by al-Qaeda in Iraq have indeed provoked some Sunni leaders to collaborate with U.S. forces. But these alliances of convenience might be inconvenient when Shiites again become the Sunnis' principal enemy.
What "forced" America to go to war in 2003 -- the "gathering danger" of weapons of mass destruction -- was fictitious. That is one reason why this war will not be fought, at least not by Americans, to the bitter end. The end of the war will, however, be bitter for Americans, partly because the president's decision to visit Iraq without visiting its capital confirmed the flimsiness of the fallback rationale for the war -- the creation of a unified, pluralist Iraq.
After more than four years of war, two questions persist: Is there an Iraq? Are there Iraqis?
It's another "Oh, look at the kitty!" moment. What more proof do you need that they will do anything to give themselves something to be outraged about rather than face the reality of the failure of the war and the real outrage of the hundreds of thousands of lives lost and the billions of dollars squandered in a senseless, vainglorious, and immoral tantrum of brutality.
Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.