Monday, September 03, 2007

Lowering All Bars

Let's cut the shit -- this is another photo-op for Bush to try to sell his lemon, cynically dangling the possibility of a drawdown, even though the Pentagon has already acknowledged that current levels are simply unsustainable. But this is the new product rollout, and as such, he gets ahead of the game a couple weeks before Petraeus heads in to give his (ahem) unvarnished opinion.

It's far from clear, however, that Anbar will prove to be a model for other parts of Iraq - mostly because Sunnis dominate and tribes are strong and there's less of a sectarian factor.

Administration officials are fond of recalling that one year ago the Marine Corps intelligence chief in Anbar concluded that, in essence, the region was a lost cause in the absence of real support by the central government. At the time administration officials downplayed that assessment by Col. Pete Devlin, but now they cite it as a measure of how far Anbar has come in reducing violence and creating hope.

Well, of course they do. Now that previous negative assessment has rhetorical utility. Now there will be an excuse to drop another pallet of benjamins for subcontractors to judiciously disburse.

[Bush] also met with Sunni tribal sheiks and members of Anbar’s governing body.

Some clarity about what that really means is in order. The administration has been resolute and steadfast in their sweet constancy, in absolutely refusing to meet with either Iranian or North Korean representatives. Hell, they're proud of that shit, even though neither Kim nor Ahmadinejad is directly responsible for the deaths of any American troops. (Addendum: though no doubt the latter character is bound to be pretextually connected to whatever supposed Quds Force units are said to be supplying more powerful IEDs to insurgent groups.) But he'll meet and shake hands with the very same Anbar Sunni sheiks who, before they were "persuaded" to get on board, were planting IEDs in every garbage can and dog carcass they could find.

North Korea is comparatively contained now only because of Christopher Hill's ability to climb down from John Bolton's previous belligerence, and essentially negotiate right back to where things were in 2000 -- only now NK's nuclear ability has been finalized. So it's the same policy of Clinton-era checkbook diplomacy they spent years deriding, only now with actual nukes.

Iran obviously has been treated in the exact opposite manner, actively doing everything to ratchet up the tension, rather than defuse it, which could have been accomplished several years ago, with much less effort than Bush is expending right now, meeting face-to-face with people who have American blood on their hands.

It would be nice if the Bushies' cheerful optimism were true, but I can't think of a single thing they have ever claimed or forecasted that was even partially true. Iraq and its subsections will be at relative peace (i.e., more orderly spasms of sectarian cleansing) when there's another strongman (and ancillary provincial strongmen) running the show, period. CNN lowered the bar even further in its fluffy "they took our Blackberries and put us on double secret probation" reportage, which had the distinct whiff of children who think they won tickets to a secret amusement park ride.

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