Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Petraeus-Crocker report slaps America with harsh reality of Iraq

All United States citizens recently received a slap across the face. Whether you felt it or not depends on your idea of the current situation in Iraq.

Early last week, General David Petraeus and our own Ryan Crocker ’71, ambassador to Iraq, provided us with their much anticipated progress report on the efficacy of the military surge. This military surge was employed by President Bush at the year’s onset in order to “buy time” for the al-Malaki government to get its act together and become a cohesive, legislating unit.

The progress report was, in and of itself, a false hope. A false hope in providing the American public with a truly transparent view of the situation in Iraq. A false hope in outlining for the American public a sensible strategy for the months to come. And, above all, a false hope in assuring the American public of the righteousness of keeping our preeminent citizens in a country that is all but an apartheid between Sunnis, Kurds and Shi’ites.

On this point even the ambassador himself agrees with me. He unfalteringly noted that “no longer is an all-powerful Baghdad seen as the panacea to Iraq’s problems.” If a strong central government is what Bush sought and if the purpose of the surge was to facilitate the creation thereof, then why are we still funneling $10 billion a month into sustaining this sectarian struggle?

Unfortunately, Iraq will become all but a cylinder of immiscible liquids, kind of like that cool cylinder containing water and several types of oils that you saw in seventh grade science class. Iraq won’t even become a federalist state: that is, a central government acting as a flimsy umbrella over the more independent regional governments of Kurdistan, the Sunni Triangle and the predominantly Shiite southeastern Iraq. This is because theological differences dating back to middle of the seventh century cannot be solved in a matter of mêlées.

These differences probably won’t even be settled in our lifetime, so it would be unwise to bet otherwise.
Reverting to the Petraeus-Crocker report, among all the points made the most notable was the prediction that by the summer of 2008 the troop level in Iraq could drop by 30,000. Though appealing, this would merely return us to the status quo. In a New York Times editorial last week, the analogy was made that the surge has been “the rough equivalent of dropping an object and taking credit for gravity.”

Of all the arguments set forth by Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, that which was most bought by Congress and the American public was the overall reduction in violence. Many Republican moderates like Lindsay Graham of South Carolina who believed that the Iraq strategy was flawed from the beginning, now: because of this argument: consider or fully support a plan to keep the military in Iraq. During Petraeus’ report, he cited that because of the added troops, Iraqi deaths over the past three months have declined. What he failed to point out with his large, computer-generated, multicolored graph was that the deaths have declined from 1,600 a week to over roughly 1,000 a week: this doesn’t describe a 37.5 percent decline in deaths, but rather that there are still 1,000 people dying every week. Moreover, they do not describe geographically where deaths occur most. In Baghdad, for instance, the rate of casualties has flatlined since mid-2007.

The fact that many middle-of-the-road Republicans wholeheartedly believe Gen. Petraeus’ idealism and now will not use their vote to put an end to this war is very troubling. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” By this decree, many Republicans staunchly stand. The problem we face today is that our multiplier has all but dwindled to zero.

If you believe that the surge is actually working and that staying the course will ultimately result in a democratic Iraq, held together by one central government where people are not oppressed or do not live in fear of being shot while casting a ballot, held together by a blooming economy led by a strong middle-class of working Iraqi men and women and held together by a common interest that places the good of the state above any individual pious ideal, then you didn’t feel the slap dealt last week. For you, pain is a sign of weakness and staying the course is a necessity, no matter how dire the realities are.

For the rest of us who don’t believe the surge is actually working and believe we should change our strategy in Iraq, we felt the slap dealt to us last week by Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. And it hurt.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *