In an attempt to please an audience of veterans Monday, Hillary Clinton said the surge was "working" and gave a helping-hand to the Bush spin machine, Pentagon dead-enders and right-wing pundits who have already begun to quote her.
"Of course the surge is working," they'll say, "even Hillary Clinton acknowledges that!" Just when Congressional Democrats were beginning to grow spines and stand up against the war, Hillary has cut them off at the knees.
As always Hillary tried to have it both ways and went on to say: "We're just years too late changing our tactics. We can't ever let that happen again. We can't be fighting the last war. We have to be preparing to fight the new war." I'm not sure what she meant by that, but I do know the surge is not working.
Whatever success we might achieve in Anbar is temporary and isolated. We've just nudged the terrorists and death squads to other parts of Iraq. If you want to know the truth about the surge, look at the numbers of innocent Iraqi civilians killed and number of people fleeing the country this summer. In both cases the numbers have remained fairly steady.
In January, before the surge, bombings in Baghdad killed 438 people. After the surge began in February, that number jumped to 520, declined in March to 323 and rose again in April, to 414. The lowest total came in June with just 190 dead, but then swung back up last month, with 354 dead. And that's just Baghdad.
Some Americans, like Hillary, might find those numbers encouraging but the majority of Iraqis view us as an inept occupation force that has failed to keep them safe from terrorism, ethnic cleansing and violent crime. That's why they continue to abandon their homes and families to join millions of their countrymen in refugee camps in Jordan and Syria.
General Petreaus's September report will of course paint a different picture. He'll offer the same cheerleading that we always hear from Bush's media savvy, but militarily clueless generals. We, in the anti-war movement, will counter his lies with facts and try to push the cowardly congressional Dems and wavering Republicans to cut off funding. But thanks to Hillary our task will be more difficult.
After Monday's speech, Clinton aides tried to clarify her remarks, saying she was specifically referring to increased cooperation from Sunnis battling insurgents in Al Anbar province. But that clarification was too little too late. Unless Hillary publicly reverses herself and personally calls the surge an overall failure, Bush's allies in the media and the Congress will have the cover they need to impede any funding cuts next year.
Saying the surge is "working" is another example of how Hillary is adopting Bill Clinton's triangulation strategy. After securing the Democratic base, the Clintons always sacrifice their allies to the Right. (Remember Sister Souljah?) Last week Hillary sandbagged the LGBT community with her states rights argument against gay marriage. This week she throws the anti-war movement under the bus. I'm curious to see who's going to be next week's victim.