First let’s yield the floor to a Republican, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, who recently proclaimed, “We have no business being a policeman in someone else’s civil war. I welcome the Iraq Study Group’s report, but if we are ultimately going to retreat, I would rather do it sooner than later.” Not cut and walk. Cut and run.
Now let’s go to a Democrat, Representative Silvestre Reyes of Texas, Pelosi’s pick as head of the House Intelligence Committee. The freshly anointed Reyes told Newsweek, “We’re not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies. We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq…I would say 20,000 to 30,000–for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military.”
Reyes comes to his important post with an open mind, meaning an empty one. He knows nothing of the region. This became clear in his brief parley with a reporter from Congressional Quarterly who had the impudence to ply him with questions at the end of a tiring day, when men of mature judgment head for the bar. CQ‘s man asked Reyes if Al Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite. Reyes tossed a mental coin. “Predominantly–probably Shiite.” Wrong, of course, since Al Qaeda is Sunni, of a notoriously intolerant strain. It’s as if Reyes had called the Pope a Presbyterian.
Then the pesky newshound probed him on the matter of Hezbollah. “Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…” Reyes answered irritably. “Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o’clock?” Back in 2002 Reyes, a Vietnam vet, was opposed to the war. Give him clout as Intelligence Committee chair and he starts citing John McCain approvingly, even upping the mad Arizonan’s troop-boost call by 10,000.
At least Gordon Smith can publicly concede that as things stand, the Iraq mission is a disaster, and quitting time is here. No prominent Democrats in Congress besides Jack Murtha can bring themselves to do that. (I include here Senator Slither, otherwise known as Barack Obama, who trims to every shift in the wind.) The language is always of pleasing schedules, in which a (fictional) entity called the Iraqi Army, at the disposition of an (imaginary) power called the Iraqi government, can be welded into an (entirely fantastical) nonsectarian force by (as yet unavailable and putatively suicidal) US military trainers.
Suicidal? A poll cited by the Iraq Study Group found that 61 percent of Iraqis believe that it is appropriate where possible to attack the US occupying troops. Since the poll included Kurds, who are less hostile to the US presence, we can assume that the percentage of Sunnis and Shiites who think it a patriotic act to shoot or blow up a US soldier is well above 61 percent. Now imagine yourself as a US trainer embedded in an Iraqi unit, the vast majority of whose members believe it right and proper to kill you. “Suicidal” seems to be the correct term. These calls for a bigger US training force are complete hokum.