September was supposed to be the month of change in Iraq. Now that September has come and gone with nary a budge of President* Bush's policy of neverending occupation, it is important to look back at the strange kabuki we witnessed.
First off were unconfirmed reports of a draw down, which were shot down by Petraeus staffers.
The Republican Senator from Virginia, John Warner, stepped before the cameras prior to The Man Called Petraeus' report and wagged a threatening finger at the President*, urging him to pull out some troops, maybe 5,000 or so, to be home by Christmas.
He explained his reasoning to send a strong message to the Maliki Government of Iraq to reach compromises needed to end the sectarian strife. Another reason was to send a message to President* Bush the impatience of the American people with the Iraqi occupation.
Reporters asked him if he had discussed this with the President* before his public announcement. Warner said he had but would not discuss the details of their conversation, because he liked to protect his visits.
It is clear now that all this was a very well orchestrated plan to continue the American occupation of a country involved in a multi-faceted civil war.
And the press played along, dutifully fulfilling their roles of the courtier class.
Breathlessly they portrayed Warner as a Very Serious Moderate Republican showing signs of doubt about the President's* policy and foreshadowing an avalanche of Republican defections.
Warner was the glue, the stalwart statesman that is guided by his long and credentialed history of military events. He was constantly hailed in the press as a reasonable, concerned and Very Serious Person.
So the political tactic was made to use the rotation of troops to appear as a draw down, therefore satisfying Warner's "line in the sand". He was satisfied with the 5,000 troops out by Christmas, a line parroted by both The Man Called Petraeus in his congressional testimony and President* Bush's statement a few days later.
No need to consider any Unserious Democratic Plan that called for troop re deployments, even though this is what 70% of Americans want, which was a possibility Senator Warner floated if Bush did not consider his proposal reasonable. This eliminated any crack in the Republican wall of obstructing troop redeployment out of Iraq.
So Warner makes a threat to the Decider, the press report a potential stampede of Republican defections, rotations are dressed up as a drawdown and the reich-wing marches in lock-step to a stay-the-course policy.
I don't think the term "moderate" and Senator Warner should be used in the same day. He is a tool for the Bush Maladministration and their War In Error.
Now, I hate to say I told you so, but I am just a blogger that probably lives in his Mother's basement, and I am not an "Emmy Award Winning Member Of The Best Political Team On Television. AKA Chicken Noodle Nuze: from August 23, 2007:
Up first tonight, Senator John Warner's revolt against the president's Iraq policy, one of the most influential voices on military affairs is taking his reservations about the war to a new level. Says President Bush should tell the American people next month that he's starting a troop withdrawal from Iraq and that some troops should be home by Christmas. Now many are asking, if the president has lost John Warner, who might be next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: We simply cannot, as a nation, stand and put our troops at continuous risk where there will be loss of life and limb without beginning to take some decisive action which will get everybody's attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our congressional correspondent Dana Bash. This is a new level for John Warner. He's been somewhat critical in the past, but today he's saying things he's never said before.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. It is different. He has bugged the president on military strategy in Iraq. He never liked the surge to begin with. This is the first time he or anyone of his stature in the military community or in the president's own Republican Party has actually said it's time to start bringing troops home. And that's why he is very well aware that what he did here today is very politically potent because it is a stark challenge to the president and also one that nervous Republicans may come back in September and embrace.
BLITZER: What about, Dana, the whole notion of his specific proposal right now. He's stopping short of simply saying that all U.S. troops have to get out of Iraq?
BASH: He's stopping short of saying that. He may sound more like a Democrat in saying troops do need to start coming home, but he's being very clear, Wolf that he does not support a deadline for troop withdrawal as most Democrats want. The bottom line is John Warner just came back from Iraq really fed up with the Iraqi government and made clear what he thinks the only way to get them into shape is to show them, not just tell them, but show them that the U.S. isn't going to be there forever by starting to bring troops home, even if it is just a symbolic number of troops that will start coming home from Iraq.
BLITZER: Still a real bombshell on Capitol Hill today. Dana, thanks very much.
The Bush administration suggests it's keeping an open mind about Senator Warner's proposal. (emphasis added)
So, the very influential Warner threatens a revolt, a stark challenge to the President* that nervous Republicans may embrace. Oh, and Bush has an open mind.
Today, Jamie McIntyre filed a report at CNN that states the reduction is actually normal troop rotation and not a reduction at all. It was set in motion in August, which pre-dated General Petraeus' report to congress, where he recommended a reduction of a Brigade by Christmas (5,700 troops) which would have happened with or without his reccomendation.
It also pre-dated Warner's "stark challenge to the President", and Senator Warner's meeting with the President, the meeting Warner would not discuss. He didn't want to blow the whole plan by talking about it I guess.
Bush accepted the recommendation of Petraeus to bring home a Brigade by Christmas (5,700 troops) which would have happened with or without his reccomendation.
This number of 5,000, with the deadline of "by Christmas" being repeated verbatim by Warner, Petraeus and Bush is just too coincidental to pass the smell test and looks suspiciously like a carney pitch job to cheat America of more blood and treasure.
Now, nearly a month later, our Emmy Award Winning Newsperts, gets around to reporting there shall be no reduction. In fact, at the end of the surge, more troops will be on the ground simply because of support personnel.
Not like this is important or anything.