It has been extremely difficult over the past several months to pay any attention at all to the discussion of Iraq from our political and media stars. It is all just complete blather, and never means anything. All of these stern and worried and tough words spill endlessly from their mouths — they all proclaimed in May that September was the Day of Reckoning: there would be bipartisan, forced withdrawal if the political benchmarks weren’t met — only for the same thing to happen over and over. The conditions are not met; Bush proclaims we are staying; and the Washington Establishment submits.
Just look at the Serious behavior of The Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt in the last week alone to see how barren and worthless their words are. Last Sunday, Hiatt came closer than ever before to admitting failure in Iraq, ending his Editorial by asking:
If Iraqis are not moving toward political reconciliation, what justifies a continuing commitment of U.S. troops, with the painful sacrifices in lives that entails?
Thus, argued Hiatt, if the President cannot answer that question, and “if there is to be no political accord in the near future,” then we must change our Iraq policy to “limit troop levels to those necessary to accomplish” very specific and more modest goals. But today, Hiatt admits that what he said just five days ago were pre-conditions for supporting Bush’s Iraq policy have not been met: “the president failed to acknowledge that, according to the standards he himself established in January, the surge of U.S. troops into Iraq has been a failure — because Iraqi political leaders did not reach the political accords that the sacrifice of American lives was supposed to make possible.”
Thus, by Hiatt’s own reasoning on Sunday, it means that there is no justification for “a continuing commitment of U.S. troops.” So does he embrace that conclusion? Of course not, because nothing he says matters; all that matters is that we stay in Iraq and do what the President wants:
Mr. Bush’s plan offers, at least, the prospect of extending recent gains against al-Qaeda in Iraq, preventing full-scale sectarian war and allowing Iraqis more time to begin moving toward a new political order. For that reason, it is preferable to a more rapid withdrawal. It’s not necessary to believe the president’s promise that U.S. troops will “return on success” in order to accept the judgment of Mr. Crocker: “Our current course is hard. The alternatives are far worse.”