And what of the Afghanistan war - the so-called just war waged after the 9/11 attacks? It's been quietly forgotten. When Petraeus was asked how his plans for Iraq might impact the GWOT, he basically said that figuring that out was not his department - that it was his job to focus solely on the Iraq war. He couldn't (or wouldn't) answer how the concentration of American troops might affect the US military's inability to deal with conflicts in the rest of the world and at home. His responses reminded me of the warnings given before and after 9/11 about US intelligence agencies not working together to deal with possible threats. And we all know what the result of that failure was.
Ryan Crocker, acting like a CEO addressing concerned corporate shareholders about their investments in Iraq (and that's really what his testimony was about, wasn't it?) could only parrot Petraeus by admitting he was "frustrated". He spoke with a chilling, distant, business-like indifference about the plight of the actual people - the Iraqis - whose fate is in his hands. No "timelines, dates or guarantees". Nothing.
And neither man could admit that the counter-insurgency strategy that's been implemented has also been practiced (most likely by accident since the official Petraeus manual hadn't been written yet) in Afghanistan - that of working with the locals while not making the much-needed connections to the federal government. The result? War lords back in power. The Taliban continuing its oppression. Karzai crying crocodile tears over all of the civilians NATO and the US military keep killing in air strikes - air power being used because there are not, and never were, enough troops on the ground. Opium once again the number one cash crop driving Afghanistan's economy. But, on this anniversary of 9/11, Iraq was the focus.
Petraeus, claiming he didn't have any sort of political agenda, was basically a two-trick pony: the problems in Iraq are being caused by al Qaeda in Iraq and Iran - convenient targets considering the Bush administration's fearmongering of late. And, as was pointed out to Petraeus, the fact that the Sunnis are rebelling against AQI in al Anbar is not so much about the fact that they've suddenly been won over (in the "hearts and minds" game). The opposition to AQI came about because their people were being raped and slaughtered. The US military seems to have no problem with supporting the Sunnis, especially since they can execute whomever they like without following the rules of war. And while Petraeus heralds this so-called triumph, the political reality of supporting the Sunnis is actually counter-productive to the concept of "national reconciliation" that both Petraeus and Crocker admit has not moved along as expected. Well, what do they expect when neither of them said one thing about the absolutely rampant corruption in al Maliki's government along with his dictatorial actions to shut down any investigations about the wrongdoing?
Shades of Afghanistan once again.
And while Petraeus hopes that touting so-called progress at the micro level is reason enough to convince congress, Americans and the world that the occupation should continue, the Bush administration is placing serious roadblocks to dealing with players in the region, like Iran and Syria, at the macro level - using threats, intimidation and sanctions as a macho form of cowboy diplomacy. How has that worked out so far?
Meanwhile, Karzai is once again trying to negotiate with the Taliban while they refuse to do so with foreign troops in the country and Musharraf pulled out of attending an Afghanistan peace conference in August. As a result of Musharraf's continual inability or reluctance to deal with insurgents in Waziristan, the US government is now placing its hopes in the return of the corrupt Benazir Bhutto. (The NYT has more on Pakistan's current political situation.)
On all of these fronts, there is no coherent and comprehensive policy except the continued push by the White House to assert its executive powers (made up as they go along while shredding the constitution in the process) against the American people.
“Partisanship is our great curse. We too readily assume that everything has two sides and that it is our duty to be on one or the other.”
-James Harvey Robinson, Amercian historian (1863-1936)
The dangerous fawning of the Republicans who place their party and president before their country is still on display this week, despite the mountains of evidence that have proven that the choice to invade Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and that execution of that and the Afghanistan war are massive failures. And they, along with corporatist Democrats who believe they owe their fealty to members of the military industrial complex - including lobbyists for foreign governments like Israel which is now under an even greater threat as a result of the regional destabilization - have sold out their constituents; doomed them to more funerals and the human and financial costs of dealing with the wounded coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan while still creating a hell overseas that they cannot even bring themselves to honestly imagine. Token visits to safe areas like the green zone or tours outside those boundaries under extremely heavy guard do not provide them with an adequate sense of reality. They'd do well to spend time with some of the 2 million refugees, within and outside of Iraq, to really understand exactly what they have wrought. Maybe then they wouldn't keep fiddling while Baghdad and Helmund province in Afghanistan burn as a result of their rash decisions.
So, on this day while America and the world once again mourns for those killed on 9/11, who is mourning for the hundreds of thousands who have died due to the need for revenge that followed that day 6 years ago?
And the question that once again hangs in the air is simple: Was it all worth it?
And who has been held accountable? Keith Olbermann offers "No truth, no consequences":
Where is the mass rebellion?
Update: The 'proxy war': UK troops are sent to Iranian border
British forces have been sent from Basra to the volatile border with Iran amid warnings from the senior US commander in Iraq that Tehran is fomenting a "proxy war".
In signs of a fast-developing confrontation, the Iranians have threatened military action in response to attacks launched from Iraqi territory while the Pentagon has announced the building of a US base and fortified checkpoints at the frontier.
And so it begins...