Monday, April 14, 2008

The War that was and the War that remains

Calling our conflict in Iraq a war is not really accurate. It's not a war, its now an occupation and has been ever since our President declared Mission Accomplished. It's an important distinction both politically and factually. I'm sure the term occupation doesn't test as well with the focus groups, so we keep calling it a war.

In any case, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker came back to Washington last week to testify before a salivating congress. The presidential candidates were out in full force both to grandstand and look as presidential as possible with the men that are crafting their biggest foreign policy issue.

Setting aside the questions of the candidates, all of which I actually thought was quite good, there was one tunning thing missing from the testimony last week. A clear picture of what results we are looking for before we can begin to execute a withdrawal.

Let me be clear here, there are the political games the candidates are playing McCaina nd the GOP promising an impossible victory (impossible because no one can define victory), and the democrats are promising an instant withdrawal upon stepping foot in the Oval Office. The truth was pretty well laid out by Colin Powell last week as he prescribed the reality the next commander in chief will face. What troubles me at this juncture with violence at least temporarily down, is that we haven't defined for ourselves under what circumstances we will leave. We have no operational or political fence posts we can point to and say, "when the Iraqis have done x,y,z, then we can begin to draw down." Instead we are left with vague policies and empty gestures from the President.

We need an end game in Iraq, we don't have the human or financial resources to keep this farce going.

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