Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Daily Headliners--Petraeus, 9/11, Petraeus, 9/11

I've been a little busy the last couple of days with family, so I haven't had much of a chance to look over all stuff coming from General David Petraeus' non-report to Congress, and the sixth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center--of course, we know that it is NOT a coincidence that Petraeus is testifying before Congress on the Iraq war on the same day as the September 11th attacks took place. So here is some Daily Headliner stories on both the testimony of General Petraeus, and September 11th.

And this Daily Headliner isn't a coincidence either.

Polls, polls and more polls: There has been quite a few interesting polls coming out on how the American public view Iraq and the Petraeus non-report. And it is all not good for Petraeus. A September 10, 2007 USA Today poll reveals that 60 percent of Americans want the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and stick to that timetable. In addition, 63 percent of the American public express a greater confidence in Petraeus, compared with the 38 percent expressing confidence for President Bush, 41 percent for congressional Republicans and 44 percent for congressional Democrats. Finally, the USA Today poll reports that 57 percent of the American public feels that the Iraqi government isn't capable of achieving the political benchmarks. A September 10, 2007 New York Times/CBS News poll reveals that 68 percent of Americans trust the U.S. military commanders to resolve the war, 21 percent of Americans trust Congress to resolve the war, and 5 percent of Americans trust President Bush to resolve the war. The NY Times/CBS News poll also reveals that 62 percent of Americans feel that the Iraq war was a mistake, 59 percent of Americans say that the war was not worth the cost in both American lives and money, and 53 percent of Americans say that they don't think that Iraq would ever become a stable democracy. Finally, two-thirds of Americans say that the United States should "reduce its troops in Iraq now or withdraw them," and 64 percent of Americans favor a troop withdrawal. An Associated Press/Ipsos poll reveals that 59 percent of the American public believe that history will judge the Iraq war as either a complete or partial failure, while 34 percent believe the war will be a success.

So what does this all mean? First, the polls are revealing that the American public does not believe that the Bush troop surge has been a success. The war in Iraq has been a complete failure, and the American public knows it. In addition, a significant majority of the American public wants the Bush administration to initiate some form of troop withdrawal from Iraq. Now here is where things start to get fuzzy. For the past nine months, the American public has been indoctrinated into the belief that General Petraeus' report will provide an unbiased assessment of the Bush surge and the war in Iraq. And surprise, the American public has bought this entire Petraeus dog and pony show with an almost two-thirds majority trusting General Petraeus and the military commanders over the Bush White House. The problem here is that the Petraeus non-report has been written by the Bush White House, the information supporting the success of this surge cherry-picked by the Bush administration. So Petraeus is stepping up to testify before Congress, with all this trust and support by the American public, and he's practically regurgitating the same Bush talking points to continue the war. The only difference here is that instead of having a Bush White House lacky giving these talking points before Congress, we've got General "Lacky" Petraeus giving the same Bush talking points before Congress. And Petraeus is testifying on the sixth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

The real lessons of 9/11: I found this great Salon story by Gary Kamiya through Carpetbagger that really puts into perspective what this sixth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks really means now. From Salon:

Six years ago, Islamist terrorists attacked the United States, killing almost 3,000 people. President Bush used the attacks to justify his 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he has been using 9/11 ever since to scare Americans into supporting his "war on terror." He has incessantly linked the words "al-Qaida" and "Iraq," a Pavlovian device to make us whimper with fear at the mere idea of withdrawing. In a recent speech about Iraq, he mentioned al-Qaida 95 times. No matter that jihadists in Iraq are not the same group that attacked the U.S., or that their numbers and effectiveness have been greatly exaggerated. It's no surprise that Gen. David Petraeus' "anxiously awaited" evaluation of the war is to be given on the 10th and 11th of September. The not-so-subliminal message: We must do what Bush and Petraeus say or risk another 9/11.

Petraeus' evaluation can only be "anxiously awaited" by people who are still anxiously waiting for Godot. We know what will happen next because we've been watching this movie for eight months. Gen. Petraeus, Bush's mighty-me, will insist that we're making guarded progress. Bush, whose keen grasp of military reality is reflected in his recent boast that "we're kicking ass" in Iraq, will promise that he will reassess the situation in April. The Democrats will flail their puny arms, the zombie Republicans will keep following orders, and the troops will stay.

So let's forget the absurd debate about "progress" and whether a bullet in the front of the head is better than one in the back, and how much we can trust our new friends from Saddam's Fedayeen. On the anniversary of 9/11, we need to ask more basic questions -- not just about why we can't bring ourselves to pull out of Iraq, but why we invaded it in the first place. Those questions lead directly to 9/11, and the ideas and assumptions behind our response to it.

Kamiya's essay here is needs to be read in its entirety here. The lesson here is that the entire country was conned by this Bush administration into rushing off to an unnecessary war--John Wayne style--without really thinking about who the enemy is in the first place. And now we're paying for this.

Petraeus doesn't know if Iraq victory will make U.S. safer: I found this astonishing exchange in the congressional testimony between General David H. Petraeus and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) on both Carpetbagger Report and TPM Muckraker. Senator Warner asked Petraeus whether a victory in Iraq will make the United States "safer." Petraeus responded, "I don't know, actually." Here is the video through YouTube:

All I can say is WOW! It is rather mind-boggling that this general has no clue as to whether a "victory" in Iraq will make us safer. Of course, the big question is how do you define "victory" in Iraq, considering that this administration has been constantly moving the goalposts on the benchmarks for the troop surge success. How do you define "victory" in Iraq when the goalposts are constantly moved? Petraeus may simply be thinking of the military situation in Iraq, but there is a serious political situation here that this Bush administration refuses to answer--how will an unending U.S. war in Iraq make this country safer? We've heard plenty of stale Bush slogans of "We need to fight the terrorists there, so we don't have to fight them here," but we're never told by this Bush White House if it is cost-effective, in both money and American lives, to continue this unending war, or to pull out and redirect our energies to improving security within our borders. General Petraeus can not answer this question. President Bush will never answer this question.

Bush policy to bequeath Iraq to successor: This is from The Los Angeles Times:

WASHINGTON -- -- The talk in Washington on Monday was all about troop reductions, yet it also brought into sharp focus President Bush's plans to end his term with a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq, and to leave tough decisions about ending the unpopular war to his successor.

The plans outlined by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, would retain a large force in the country -- perhaps more than 100,000 troops -- when the time comes for Bush to move out of the White House in January 2009.

The plans also would allow Bush to live up to his pledge to the defining mission of his presidency, and perhaps to improve his chances for a decent legacy. He can say he left office pursuing a strategy that was having at least some success in suppressing violence, a claim that some historians may view sympathetically.

"Bush has found his exit strategy," said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former government Mideast specialist now at the Brookings Institution. As Petraeus met with lawmakers and unveiled chart upon chart showing declining troop levels, the U.S. commander seemed to have opened a new discussion about how the United States would wind up its commitment to Iraq. Yet viewed more closely, his presentation, and that of U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, were better suited to the defense of an earlier strategy: "stay the course."

It is just amazing that a mainstream newspaper is finally saying what I, and quite a few other bloggers have been saying about President Bush. It is that President Bush intends to dump this entire Iraq mess to his successor. It is a story that really hasn't been covered much in the media, but it makes perfect sense when you consider just how much time and energy that this administration has spent in its PR-campaign to continue supporting the war until after Bush leaves office. It is the only way that President Bush can salvage his failed legacy--by blaming his successor for "losing" Iraq.

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