Good help is hard to find

Retired Marine Corps Gen. John Sheehan explained in his op-ed today why he asked not to be considered for the new post of “war czar” in the Bush administration. Not only did he decline the offer, but he went a step further and added his significant 2 cents by the country that our military and war policy in Iraq is destined to fail, because it is being controlled by a small band of ideologues who have no coherent strategy for ever leaving Iraq.

What I found in discussions with current and former members of this administration is that there is no agreed-upon strategic view of the Iraq problem or the region. . . .

There has to be linkage between short-term operations and strategic objectives that represent long-term U.S. and regional interests, such as assured access to energy resources and support for stable, Western-oriented countries. These interests will require a serious dialogue and partnership with countries that live in an increasingly dangerous neighborhood. We cannot “shorthand” this issue with concepts such as the “democratization of the region” or the constant refrain by a small but powerful group that we are going to “win,” even as “victory” is not defined or is frequently redefined.

Sheehan is largely stating the obvious, but coming from the latest among a number of military experts, it confirms what anyone with a sense or reality has knows for quite some time.

What is unique about this Op-ed however is that the reference to the small but powerful group, which comprises the usual suspects, none of whom have ever known military combat. These are the dead enders have been reminding us for the past fours years that we have been turning the corner in Iraq, or that the next six months will be crucial.

As Glenn Greenwald points out so succintly, as far as this President is concerned, “defeat” is defined as leaving, so they will never want to leave.

Thus, the Kagan/Kristol/Krauthammer war propagandists continue to say whatever they have to say in order to find a way to stay in Iraq forever. Our Serious Beltway pundits continue to embrace that reasoning because staying is the only way to avoid the reality of how wrong they were. And the disconnect between what Americans want and think, and what our government (and the “small but powerful” faction that controls it) does, continues to grow without any end in sight. On the most crucial issues faced by this country, nothing matters less to the Kagans and the Fred Hiatts (and, increasingly, to many disturbingly tepid Congressional Democrats) than the views of Americans. Within that disconnect lies most of the sicknesses ailing our political culture.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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