But in reality to what extent has this war ever been under anyone’s control? To what extent has it been obedient to any American’s will or judgment? Have our Presidents been in control of the war? What has this war been if not the story of the breakdown of the government’s control to do anything but bring senseless destruction or leave? Doesn’t the record show that our Presidents and their advisers and our generals and all our other “leaders,” who have “run” this war have been trapped in isolation and ignorance of the war, their judgment destroyed by the flood of spurious “information” given them by overfinanced [sic] armed bureaucracies that had gone wild in a part of the world no bureaucracy understood? Now it appears that, in our weariness, the rest of us are in danger of succumbing to the hypnotic effect of the self-propagandizing machine that has put our leaders to sleep, one by one. Perhaps there are a few people in the White House or in the Pentagon who regard the opening of this new campaign, and the silence that has greeted it throughout the country, as a triumph for their point of view. What has happened, however, is not that the Administration has won something and its opponents lost something. What has happened is that a war that no one – not even the most belligerent hawks – ever wanted, or even imagined, has won a victory over America. This is not really a victory of one point of view over another, it is a victory of momentum over all points of view, a victory of violence over restraint, a victory of fatigue over vigilance and control.
I expect much the same next month when Petraeus and Crocker deliver their ghost-written report. There will be much talk of benchmarks not having been met and political reconciliation that is further from being achieved than it was before the "surge," but the surge will be said to be working, just a bit more time. "The Spring, yes, The Spring we'll be sure to report back on new pony ranches opening up all over a unified Iraq." And it will go on, senselessly. The motivations for our staying changes -- from Removing a Dangerous Threat, to Democracy Whiskey Sexy, to Flypaper, to providing security to form political consensus, to...well, I'm sure they'll come up with something on the fly for what comes next...but stay we will.
"Senseless destruction or leave."
In an hour and a half meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a secure Pentagon room dubbed ''the Tank,'' Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney heard from leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, who are worried about strains that are building on the forces -- and on troops' families -- as a result of lengthy and repeated tours in Iraq.
Bush did not speak in person after the meeting, but he issued a statement saying he is committed to giving the military ''all it needs to meet the challenges of this new century.'' He also asked lawmakers to reserve judgment about the best next move in Iraq until a report in two weeks from the U.S.'s top general and top diplomat there.
''The stakes in Iraq are too high and the consequences too grave for our security here at home to allow politics to harm the mission of our men and women in uniform,'' the president said in the statement. ''It is my hope that we can put partisanship and politics behind us and commit to a common vision that will provide our troops what they need to succeed and secure our vital national interests in Iraq and around the world.''
In a fresh sign of U.S. frustration with the Iraqi government in Baghdad, a senior U.S. commander said in an Associated Press interview that he is aggravated by the slow pace of action by Iraq's central government to ensure that its security forces are properly led, supplied and equipped on the battlefield.
''I have not seen any improvement really in the year I've been here in that regard,'' said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq. He said the Iraqi army is doing ''pretty well'' in fighting the insurgency alongside U.S. troops, but they are not getting sufficient support from Baghdad.
''Progress is slower than it should be inside the (Iraqi) army in particular'' with regard to proper support and direction from national leaders in Baghdad, Mixon said by telephone, adding that the problem lies in a combination of bureaucratic obstacles and sectarian-based decisions about army leadership appointments.
Two independent assessments of the situation in Iraq already have been previewed this week -- the latest finding that Iraq's national police are so corrupt and influenced by sectarianism that the corps should be scrapped and replaced with a smaller force.
And the same momentum that will demand -- and receive -- another Friedman Unit in a war that most Americans have quietly moved on from, is well on its way in the cycle that leads more surely every day to Iran.
Just as Nixon wanted to widen the Vietnam "conflict" to include most of Indo-China, it looks like Bush will do the same (if he shows any restraint at all it will be to rebuff the demands of the Neo-cons to invade Syria as well). And just as Nixon did at the time, when he was promising troop withdrawals, Bush will let his Air Force do most of the talking.
The report released Thursday, a quarterly update of Iran’s nuclear activity, said the country was operating nearly 2,000 centrifuges, the machines that enrich uranium, at its vast underground plant at Natanz, an increase of several hundred from three months ago. More than 650 additional centrifuges are being tested or are under construction, the agency said.
That number is far short of Iran’s projection that by now it would have 3,000 centrifuges up and running. The I.A.E.A. also reported that uranium being processed by the working centrifuges at Natanz was “well below the expected quantity for a facility of this design.” In addition, the agency said that uranium was enriched to a lower level than the Iranians had claimed.
These results have raised questions among private experts and officials at the atomic agency about whether Iran is facing technical difficulties or has made a political decision to curtail its nuclear operations. Low enriched uranium can fuel power reactors, and highly enriched uranium can fuel a bomb.
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said his own calculations, based on the report’s data, suggested that Iran was operating its centrifuges at as little as 10 percent of their potential. “That’s very low — and we don’t know why,” he said.
Dr. ElBaradei said he believed that the Iranian leadership had decided to operate Natanz at less than full capacity. “They could have expanded much faster,” he said. “Some say it’s for technical reasons. My gut feeling is that it’s primarily for political reasons.”
He said he “did not in any way give a blessing” to Iran’s decision to proceed with uranium enrichment, a program that Security Council resolutions demand must be frozen. But he has taken what he has called a realistic view that the world has to accept that Iran will never halt the program and that the goal now must be to prevent it from expanding to industrial-level production.
“It’s difficult technology, but it’s not rocket science,” he said. “Through a process of trial and error, you will have the knowledge.”
Some in the Bush administration have contended that Dr. ElBaradei, whose agency is part of the United Nations, is operating outside his mandate by independently striking the deal with Tehran. But he defended his move, saying: “My responsibility is to look at the big picture. If I see a situation deteriorating” and “it could lead to a war, I have to raise the alarm or give my advice.”
The evolving divide places Dr. ElBaradei in conflict with President Bush, and not for the first time. The White House bristled in 2003 when Dr. ElBaradei reported that there was no evidence to support claims that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. Later the administration tried to block Dr. ElBaradei’s nomination for a second term at the agency just months before he won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. But now the administration needs Dr. ElBaradei, an Egyptian diplomat, more than ever, because his agency’s findings have formed the core of its case against Iran.
And the video of destroyed Iranian cities and bleeding people will play all across the region (though probably not here -- our eyes are too sensitive these days to see the destruction we cause), further endearing us to the people for whom we are fighting to get them "a more responsible government."