April 3, 2008
-- by John Emerson
I shouldn't be, but I'm astonished at the failure of Americans (especially the media and the Democrats) to ask some basic questions and draw some basic conclusions about the Basra attack.
1. Did Cheney approve the Basra attack? Almost certainly. Was it his idea all along? The timing of his visit to Iraq suggests that it might have been. No one's asking.
2. What about Fred Kagan's confident statement a couple of days before the attack: The Civil War Is Over. Why isn't everyone ridiculing Kagan now, the way he very recently ridiculed those who believed ago that the civil war was going to continue? Why didn't Kagan's career as a talking head and policy adviser come to an end the day the attack began? He obviously knows nothing about anything.
3. What about Bush's statement that the Basra attack was "a defining moment for a free Iraq"? What got defined in Basra was the extreme weakness of the central government and its lack of authority even over its own troops. Shouldn't someone be asking Bush about this? The Iraqis are clearly unable to "stand up".
4. What really happened? As more detail comes out, it seems that the failure of the offensive was even greater than the first reports had it. The mere fact that Maliki failed at what he tried to do, after having made grand proclamations about his intentions, should have left him crippled from then on out. But there's also evidence that the battle was much worse than just a standoff, and would have ended more disastrously than it was except for a last minute rescue by the Americans, the British, and the Iranians.
It's at times like this I wish that the U.S. had a two-party system. For example, just hypothetically: if we were in the middle of a Presidential campaign right now, one of the candidates from the opposing party would probably be saying something about the emptiness and falseness of what Our President has been saying about Iraq, and about the incompetence and destructiveness of Cheney's most recent intervention in Iraqi policy-making.
But just as there are no magic ponies in Iraq, there are none in the U.S. either.
Posted by John Emerson at April 3, 2008 6:33 AM
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