Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Glenn Greenwald on the Petraeus report (written 6 months ago)

The single greatest and most transparent delusion in our public discourse right now -- and that is a distinction for which there is always an intense competition -- is that Something Weighty and Significant is Going to Happen In September with regard to the Iraq War.

September, you see, is the real turning point, the real Day of Reckoning. Finally, our political elites are going to face the cold, hard truth in an unvarnished and hard-nosed way about The Facts on the Ground. That is the read deadline for George W. Bush. No more leniency for him come September. Republicans, Democrats and their pundit and opinion-making comrades alike have all banded together -- strength in numbers -- and boldly decreed: "No More." Either we have Real Progress in September, or that is the end of the line.

That's what one hears over and over from all of our Serious and Sober Beltway denizens -- the ones who advocated the war in the first place and assured us it was going well for the last four years (and therefore have great credibility on such matters). As but just one example, the very serious, sober, smart expert Michael O'Hanlon, bearing the title of Senior Fellow of Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, was on Fox News yesterday explaining how "smart" the Democrats were for funding the war with no limits because their real opportunity is September, when -- if things are not going well -- everyone will support them in imposing real limits.

But all that is going to happen In September is that we are going to await with bated breath for General David Petraeus -- he of infallible wisdom, judgment and honesty, and unquestionable objectivity -- to descend upon Washington and reveal whether there is Real Progress being made (by him) in Iraq. We are all going to leave partisanship and politics to the side and turn to the source who resides above all of that, the one who can be counted on to speak the Real Truth -- General David Petraeus.

And, needless to say, General Petraeus will, cautiously though emphatically, declare that progress is being made, though there is much work that remains to be done. And therefore we must redouble our resolve and stay until The Job is Done. . . .

And with General Petraeus heralded as the Objective Source of Honor to be Trusted, the White House and Congressional Republicans and Fred Hiatt will immediately proclaim that it would be irresponsible and reckless (and terribly unserious) not to continue with our Great Progress, that we should leave such judgments to the Generals on the Ground, not Politicians in Washington. Joe Lieberman and Bill Kristol will warn that anyone who speaks out in dissent at this Important Time of Opportunity is Emboldening Al Qaeda, and General Petraeus will agree.

And in September, when the great (though incomplete) progress is unveiled by General Petraeus, our pundit class will continue their canonization of The General, and thus, that there is Progress in Iraq will be the conventional wisdom which all serious and responsible people recognize ("Finally, after four years of frustration, General David Petraeus, in dramatic testimony before Congress, highlighted the great improvement the U.S. is seeing in its war against Al Qaeda in Iraq"). And a sufficient number of Democrats will either be persuaded by this ritual or will be sufficiently afraid of it to do anything other than let the entire spectacle continue.

The central unyielding truth in our political landscape is that -- no matter what -- the War in Iraq is not going to end before the end of the Bush presidency. That has been obvious for a very long time, and that is why it is so bizarre to watch the Beltway establishment continue to pretend that there is some Big Decision Day coming in September -- the day when Republicans take a stand and our political elite put their foot down.

Nothing has changed. Republicans and media-war-proponents are far too invested in the war to do anything other than claim it is finally going well. And there are more than enough Democrats who either (a) believe we should stay in Iraq indefinitely, (b) perceive political benefits from staying, and/or (c) fear forcing withdrawal.

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