Saturday, September 30, 2006

Who Lost Iraq?

As Spencer Ackerman notes in The New Republic, the right is preparing to launch a "stabbed-in-the-back" meme with which to blame liberals and Democrats for the inevitable crack-up of the Bush adventure in Iraq.

"Somehow," Ackerman observes, "conservatives have come to believe that the main impediment to America's battlefield fortunes exists not in Iraq, but in Cambridge, Berkeley, and the Upper West Side." Of course, they "have come to believe" this not because of any facts that suggest this to be true but because they have to believe it in order to go on believing that conservatives can do no wrong. (As Upton Sinclair wrote decades ago, "It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.")

I want to ask conservatives who are blaming liberals for the loss in Iraq the same question I wondered about back in the seventies when they blamed liberals for the loss in Vietnam: Exactly how have liberals impeded the war effort?

Have Democrats in Congress ever once withheld funding from Bush's Pentagon or refused any request for support for the troops? Was it liberals who urged Rumsfeld not to plan for the post-war occupation? Was it liberals who insisted on sending too few troops and on forcing early retirement on generals who publicly disagreed with that strategy?

Has the Bush administration ever been dissuaded from any step it wanted to take in Iraq by anti-war demonstrators, critics in the media, or protests by liberal activists? Has Bush himself--who continually boasts about the fact that he ignores polls--ever changed his Iraq policy under pressure from public opinion? If so, exactly when and how?

Or are the conservatives preparing to claim that the morale and determination of our forces have been undermined by the stateside debate over Iraq? If so, do they understand that this is a serious slander on our men and women in uniform? Are they claiming that soldiers in Iraq are saying, "Gee, I see on CNN that Nancy Pelosi disagrees with President Bush's policy on Iraq. I guess I won't go out on patrol today . . . or if I do, I won't put up much of a fight when the enemy appears"? If this is what conservatives think is happening, I'd like to hear them say so.

The truth is that conservatives--who love to spout off about "personal responsibility" when it comes to other people's mistakes--are simply looking for a way to foist responsibility for their fiasco of a war on someone else. Face facts: Bush and the conservatives got their way in Iraq, riding roughshod over (admittedly feeble) opposition and even violating the laws and the Constitution in order to do so. Now that the depths of their fuck-up are becoming inescapably obvious, they are preparing to blame . . . us!?

It would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic.

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