Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rendering Surrendering

In his testimony before Congress this week, Gen. David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee, and specifically Sen. John Warner (R-VA), that he isn't sure America is any safer after all the money and lives sacrificed in the name of national security. It's been suggested that Petraeus's answer was a momentary gaffe. But I think it was his honest opinion because how can it be otherwise?

The general stammered that all he knows is how to guide "the mission." So far, no one has explained to me satisfactorily what that mission is. John McCain, who has completely lost his mind, and much of his support, has decided now to tie his political fortunes to a new slogan, "No Surrender." It's painted on his campaign bus and is the new focus of his sputtering presidential campaign. So in McCain's view, the mission is not to surrender. Surrender to whom?

My best guess is, no one in the ranks of the GOP wants to surrender to public opinion. There's that little mess we call "Vietnam" that some point to as the era when America lost its political will and "surrendered" to the Communist North. I happen to see it instead as a brave acceptance of the geopolitical reality of the region as it existed in 1975.

So here we are, 32 years later, trying again to extricate ourselves from an unwinnable "war" and again the hawks are saying we must not "surrender." The surge is working, they say. Parts of Iraq are safer. But the PR spin, as artful as ever, can't hide the fact that we are digging deeper into a regional conflict that has a religious component we demonstrate almost daily we do not understand.

I agree that Islamic fundamentalism is a very scary entity. And by remaining in Iraq we are stoking the fires of a religious fervor that will take ages to tamp down. It seems inevitable to me that whenever the U.S. decides to remove itself from Iraq that there will be major chaos, not to mention factional killing on a massive scale. Everything we have seen so far will be simply prologue.

But in the absence of a serious drawdown of troops, we are condemned to losing at least 60 young men and women, not to mention $8 billion, each and every month. All the public appeals and photo ops by the president do nothing to change the reality on the ground in a desert country halfway around the world. It's the mathematics of madness. And it doesn't add up.

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