Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mission Not Accomplished

It is easy—really easy—to look at the beady-eyed maniac who vetoed the Iraq supplemental (now! with timelines!) and laugh at the folly of his flyboy stunt and photo-op speech of four years prior. Since then, over 3,200 more dead Americans, 360 billion more dollars down the sinkhole, the number of Sunni insurgents increased 14-fold, the number of attacks up by a factor of 17—mission so not accomplished.

It is easy, too, to laugh at the rationale President Bush used when issuing only the second veto of his administration: timelines are a “prescription for chaos and confusion; an early American exit would turn Iraq into a “cauldron of chaos”—as if Iraq today is a model of warm, fuzzy order rivaled only by Build-a-Bear Workshop.

But, it is because of the additional dollars and the additional dead, because of the inflating number of terrorists and the inflamed global tensions, and because of the current carnage and chaos that I cannot laugh.

Republicans and reporters might want to frame the debate over the future of the occupation as a game, pissing match, or staring contest between Bush and the Democratic leadership, but what is truly at stake is not just bragging rights or a stack of play money. Everyday the US stays the course and continues to splurge on the “surge,” the numbers of dead and wounded Americans, the numbers of dead and wounded Iraqis, the numbers of radicalized Moslems, and the numbers of dollars that could have been spent on something better will continue to increase—and the power that we as a nation have to do anything about it all will continue to decrease.

The clearly deteriorating situation in Iraq—with violence of all kinds as high as ever, the Iraqi parliament in disarray and now on hiatus, the al Maliki government using the US to kill Sunnis and arm their own Shiite militias—coupled with the contempt held by the White House for the feelings and wisdom of the majority here at home, makes this no time for easy jokes. . . or expedient compromises.

And that is why when I say “Mission not accomplished,” I am not looking at the president—not this time—I am looking at the Democrats. George W. Bush has vetoed one strategy to end the occupation—and more the visible fool he for doing so—but that is not an invitation to the Democrats to find their own USS Abraham Lincoln and declare major combat over. Democrats may have won the day, but they have not accomplished their mission.

Voters made it clear last November—America wants its troops out of Iraq. And while this round has done much to tie the Bush Administration and its Republican enablers to a fiasco of historic proportions, it has not stopped the architects of our misfortune from perpetuating, and exacerbating, the nightmare. If Democrats take this moment to feel satisfied with the political points gained, victory will be beyond pyrrhic, and voters will all too soon come to mock them as much as they now do the calcified commander-in-chief.

Any talk of compromise that does not include real and binding restrictions on the President’s long war is not so much compromise as capitulation. Any discussion of drafting a bill that Bush might sign must keep the Democrats’ mission—emphasizing political and diplomatic solutions over military force—in mind, and the final goal—effectively withdrawing all US combat forces from Iraq—in plain sight. Returning to the status quo ante, voting for another supplemental funding bill while paying aggressive lip service to the president’s problems, will not end the carnage nor calm the chaos, and thus, it will not do.

Over four years in, Bush’s original mission—however you frame it—lies in blood-soaked ruin. It is not accomplished, but it needs to be over. The occupation must end. American troops must come home.

President Bush has now made it his mission to prevent that from happening—it is the Democrats’ mission to see that this time, this Bush mission is (also) not accomplished.

(cross-posted from guy2k)

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