Thursday, November 16, 2006

It is or it isn't

But it is not both. For every day it seems that Iraq is Vietnam, we get things like this that tell us it is not. After carrying pretty much every anti-Iraq Democrat's water, the NY Times gave us a piece from Michael Gordon yesterday regaling us with tales of Generals who don't want the US to leave. Yes, many of the same ones who've declared it a lost cause and called for the ouster of Donald Rumsfeld for two years:

But this argument is being challenged by a number of military officers, experts and former generals, including some who have been among the most vehement critics of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies.

Anthony C. Zinni, the former head of the United States Central Command and one of the retired generals who called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, argued that any substantial reduction of American forces over the next several months would be more likely to accelerate the slide to civil war than stop it.

Instead of taking troops out, General Zinni said, it would make more sense to consider deploying additional American forces over the next six months to “regain momentum” as part of a broader effort to stabilize Iraq that would create more jobs, foster political reconciliation and develop more effective Iraqi security forces.

I'm incredulous, and I must confess to incredulity as my initial reaction to such a statement. I'm left thinking that Zinni's criticism over the last years was truly the grinding of a personal ax. I hope I'm wrong.

Over at Instapundit, Glenn has a roundup of thoughts; his and others:

SO WE HAD THESE HEARINGS ON IRAQ, and generals Abizaid and Zinni are arguing against timetables for withdrawal, which has been the Democrats' main policy proposal.

Did the Democrats know beforehand that this is what the generals thought? If so, were they dishonest in not taking it into account? Maybe they were relying on this sort of thing to keep from having to do what the MoveOn crowd wants, but what they know is wrong?

Or did they not know, making them clueless? Neither one's impressive. But since the big criticism of Rumsfeld, which led to his defenestration, was that he "didn't listen to the generals," what are the Democrats to do now that the generals have spoken?

He quotes Dave Price echoing that very sentiment with a very acute observation: The bedrock political strength of Bush's Iraq policy is that it rests on the advice of the military, in which public trust runs deep and wide, whatever they may think of the war itself or the decision to invade. Democrats may have no qualms about calling Bush incompetent, but witnessing how quickly they ran away from Kerry's perceived knock on U.S. troops, it's safe to assume they will be very wary about voicing similar opinions regarding the commanders on the ground in Iraq. That public view of the military as nearly sacrosanct is a major difference between now and Vietnam, and it puts the Dems in an awkward position when they advocate a position the military vehemently disagrees with.

The obvious media-slam aside, Glenn's point about this coverage is well taken. Or at least should be: It's too bad, though, that the media neglected this stuff -- along with a lot of other things -- before the elections, as part of their effort to deliver Evan Thomas's 15 percent to the Democrats. Still, better late than never.

Not surprising though somewhat infuriating.

So is it or isn't it? I don't know. It's beginning to get where I can't keep up with it. At the risk of bad analogy making, with the way this has gone back-and-forth it's beginning to look like the team who has the ball last wins this argument.

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