By The Angry Rakiakasan via No Quarter.
This is how it happens: A desperate Republican goes to Iraq looking for something—anything—to justify the continuing presence of American troops there. The Republican stays for a week (give or take), and then returns home as if he or she were Moses coming back from Mount Sinai, carrying to the American people stone tablets engraved with The Ultimate Truth About Iraq.
And of course, this Ultimate Truth About Iraq is learned by the Republican in the chow hall, on the secure base, with the hand-picked soldiers sitting at the table.
This is what Senator Jim Webb rightly called the “dog and pony show.” For those who don’t know, that’s an old military expression used to describe how troops are often forced to put on a “show” for visiting politicians or VIPs to convey just how swell everything is going on the front lines.
Politicians or VIPs who’ve served in a combat zone know this. Sadly, the rest visit the troops in a state of blissful ignorance.
Before I started listening to the long and distinguished list of Republicans who took The Trip to Obtain Ultimate Moral Authority on Iraq, I had no idea that this level of enlightenment could take place within a week. But then I started researching it and learned otherwise. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable instances of this:
1. Lindsey Graham
The other day on Meet the Press (while Jim Webb was dismantling him), Senator Graham insisted that troops were re-enlisting at the highest numbers ever because they supported the mission in Iraq. Of course, Graham knew this because, as he was quick to let everyone know, he has been to Iraq seven times. Never mind the fact that Webb is a Vietnam veteran whose son served in Iraq. Never mind that Graham’s trips don’t last longer than two or three days. Graham was perfectly content to smugly retort to Webb: “Have you been to Iraq?” He asked this as if he were the expert—and as if Webb were the neophyte. And why not? Graham has visited the troops seven times. He may only be a never-deployed lawyer in the Air Force Reserves, but his trips to Iraq have given him The Knowledge.
2. Michelle Malkin
Michelle Malkin couldn’t stand the fact that she didn’t have the moral authority to run her mouth about her Iraq. She’s still young enough to enlist, but apparently that’s just not her thing. Michelle figured out she could just do it the easy way—by taking The Trip to Obtain Ultimate Moral Authority on Iraq. That’s right: She decided to go for a whole week.
By the time she’d returned from the journey, she was qualified to talk down to just about anyone on the subject of Iraq. In fact, she mocked other journalists like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann for not being as courageous as she was being. She said this:
In fact, one of our hosts at Forward Operating Base Justice said they would be happy to welcome Keith Olbermann as an embed. And Chris Matthews (last heard smearing U.S. troops as participants in “ethnic cleansing”), too. The rooms at The Tiger’s Lair (pictured above) are spartan, but toasty warm. How ’bout it, boys?
3. John McCain
John McCain also knows what daily city combat in Iraq is like. His expertise as a naval aviator in Vietnam has given him more knowledge on urban guerrilla war in the Middle East than any combat-tested American Army generals—like John Abizaid. But more importantly, Senator McCain has been to Iraq “many times over the years.” Going to Iraq “many times,” for periods of 24-48 hours in the Green Zone, is like reaching the Nirvana of ground combat experience and knowledge. It enables one to buy rugs safely in the market, and to say confidently, “Never have I been able to drive from the airport. Never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today.” He can say these things because, like the infantryman who patrols the darkened Baghdad streets every night, locked and loaded, for 15 months at a time, John McCain knows what it’s like.
4. Joe Lieberman
And we can’t forget Senator Lieberman. I mean, this guy once spent 10 days traveling in the Middle East! Who needs to spend a career studying urban light infantry tactics for use in a guerrilla war when you can gain all that knowledge in less than a week and a half? Joe knows what it means to serve. And he knows what a war with Iran would like. And wars don’t get much easier than that one looks to be.
And this brings me to my point: Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution is a clown. He’s number five:
5. Michael O’Hanlon
Even though he works for the politically liberal Brookings Institution, O’Hanlon (an old friend of David Petraeus) has been going around this week spouting off about his recent eight-day trip to Iraq. He took the trip so that he too could Obtain Ultimate Moral Authority on Iraq. And I must say: Michael really needed to go. Because he’s been really wrong about. . .ummm. . .pretty much everything on Iraq from the beginning. Just look at this compilation of crazy nonsense he’s said about Iraq in the past.
O’Hanlon even said this in today’s New York Times:
Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.
Perhaps someone took O’Hanlon to Fort Irwin, California to meet soldiers—and maybe they just told him he was in Iraq. Because that’s not the same stuff I’m hearing from the troops. And I talk to them daily as part of my work with VoteVets.org. For instance, here is an excerpt of an email I received just two days ago. It’s from an Army captain stationed in Mosul:
(My) decision to get out was solidified by the loss of soldiers, the loss of friends and the poor command leadership . . . (I) should be back by March 2008 with more reasons to be embittered by the war, the effects it is having on soldiers and the millions of US tax payer dollars that we see wasted here.
Obviously this Army officer wasn’t hand-picked to eat with O’Hanlon at the chow hall when he was there.
Perhaps these Bush enablers like O’Hanlon will never learn what life is really like on the ground in Iraq. And it’s clear that they’re really not even trying to pay attention. Take for instance the most recent Republican talking point about the surge: That it’s working because July has seen a sharp decrease in the number of coalition casualties. Mmm. Good thinking guys. I’m sure O’Hanlon buys into it, even though no one has yet stopped to realize that it’s 130 freaking degrees in Iraq right now.
In reality, July is typically a slow month for insurgents because it’s simply too hot to operate. If these Bush enablers like O’Hanlon really wanted to analyze the data, they’d notice that this July has been the deadliest July for American troops since the war began. Don’t believe me? Here are the numbers for every July since 2003:
Don’t believe these charlatans like O’Hanlon, Graham, Malkin, McCain, or Lieberman. They are ignorant and have no frames of reference on which to build their assertions concerning Iraq.