The Blog

Another Disconcerting Disconnect in the Iraq Debacle

It's unwise to forget with whom we're dealing here. This administration has amply demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice nearly all but itself.
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I thought we agreed that leopards don't change their spots. So what is all this blathering about George W. Bush acquiescing to the will of voters and suddenly presenting an olive branch to Democrats? It reminds me of portrayals of the jubilant, misled Trojans just before the gift horse delivered.

Yes, yes, we're supposed to now find common ground. Sounds good, but years of studying negotiation tells me that common ground can be a useful start for talks among hostile adversaries, but it is rarely a productive end point and is even an ill-advised, unreliable starting one when the other side has proven its penchant for deception.

Those of you who've been reading my previous blogs and books know that I do most of my political reading between the lines. Disconnects between facial expressions and words as well as between actions and assertions are critical signals too often overlooked. We prefer to rely on what we perceive to be rational even if the people being assessed aren't - at least not our kind of rational. Senator Joe Biden, for example, argued recently that elections have profound consequences and that the President would be not simply tone deaf but "stone deaf" to ignore the results of the last election. But William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, who knows the President, cautioned against assuming a caging of the hawks in Iraq policy. In fact, he suggested we are just as likely to see a greater hawkish shift.

The President or his cohort wouldn't dare, we tell ourselves. Surely they have learned their lesson. And didn't Henry Kissinger, one of the crafters of today's debacle in Iraq, recently propose that we no longer expect a military victory or military solution? Is this a much overdue acquiescence from on high, or is it, we might reasonably ask, not so much a sea change at the top as a diversionary tactic? One, by the way, predicated by relieving the man who obstinately stayed the course so that a new less overtly obdurate yet still "victory" oriented one might take its place. Perhaps one that involves letting the course in Iraq play out a bit more so that the solutions Tom Hayden foreshadowed might obtain or, potentially worse, neighboring states might violently enter the fiasco.

And if either of these scenarios is the case, could it be that an escalating civil war, as heinous as it is, could work for the current Administration? If not, then why so much biding of time labeling it as such, waiting for the Baker-Hamilton report that must have to be rewritten every night to avoid irrelevance given the rapidly deteriorating, deplorable events in Iraq? Why all this talk about moving the deckchairs (a la al Malki) while tensions increase and madness reins? And what of the planned visit or two to the Saudis? Perhaps you have some thoughts on that.

I don't have Tom Hayden's connections, but over the years I've learned to smell a rat - to read the tea leaves if you prefer. Would it be all that surprising after years of a war based on lies, executed with shocking ineptitude, causing thousands of deaths that a civil war might now be seen by the current Bush Administration as a viable path to a "win" of sorts? Would it be beyond the current leadership, as abhorrent as it sounds, to turn lemons to lemonade in Iraq - to let a civil war get firmly underway before admitting to its existence so that in its blood and dust the post "Mission Accomplished" years of failure, to use George Bush's words, might be, with a little help and a new library, reduced to a mere "comma"?

It's unwise to forget with whom we're dealing here. This administration has amply demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice nearly all but itself. The chief players are not beyond lying and they have two more years to go. Call this view paranoid, an unwelcome, party-pooping conspiracy theory, or just plain out-to-lunch, but a heads up on Iraq in the midst of post-election jubilation is surely needed if we're to avoid being made fools yet again.