The neocon editors of the Washington Post, who have pushed the Iraq War since the beginning, are bummed out over the looming reality of America's strategic defeat after eight years of fighting.
However, rather than accept that their neocon crusade was a bloody folly wasting human lives and precious resources, the Post's editors have repackaged their case for an open-ended U.S. military stay in Iraq as a humanitarian mission with an overlay of geopolitics.
"After the thousands of American lives lost and billions spent, it would be tragic if Iraq collapsed again into war or fell prey to Iran or other neighbors because of a security vacuum created by the U.S. withdrawal," the Post wrote in an April 3 lead editorial, "Iraq's Ticking Clock."
The Post called on President Barack Obama to press Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki into ignoring the widespread desire among Iraqis to see the occupation end and instead get Maliki to negotiate a revised "status of forces agreement" that would keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond this year.
"With time running out, the United States should be looking for ways to get around the impasse" of Iraq's inaction on revising the SOFA, the Post's editors said. "A NATO training mission already operates in Iraq and could be extended and expanded; so could a planned U.S. office of defense cooperation.
"At a minimum, U.S. officials and commanders should be briefing Iraq political leaders on the consequences of a full American withdrawal and disabusing them of any illusions that Mr. Obama will come forward with an initiative.
"If Mr. Maliki does bring himself to propose a new force agreement, it's likely he will delay as long as he can. The administration should be prepared to respond to a last-minute initiative."
Instead of accepting the facts on the ground of an impending American defeat, the Post's editors have chosen to spin new rationalizations -- and search out new excuses -- for continuing the U.S. occupation.
Some on the Right also have blamed Obama for the pending U.S. departure from Iraq, although it was President George W. Bush who accepted the SOFA that set the timetable for withdrawal.
Bush had hoped to negotiate a SOFA that would permit an open-ended American occupation, thus locking his successor into an indefinite continuation of the war. But Maliki issued a series of escalating demands for setting a timetable on a full U.S. withdrawal.
To get any SOFA at all for allowing American troops to remain legally after the end of 2008, Bush was forced to accept a deadline for the U.S. pullout, something that he had long resisted. The irony was that Bush's desire to use the SOFA to cement a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq had the opposite result
As the Post editors noted in their editorial, Obama's role has been primarily to let the clock keep ticking.
But the well-connected and well-funded neocons are not known for easily accepting defeat, although it's never their physical safety on the line. So, they are still looking for ways to salvage something in Iraq as well as turning this year's Arab uprisings into an extension of the neocon strategy of eliminating old and new adversaries of Israel.
Besides chiding Obama about Iraq, the Post's editors and other leading neocons are advocating a bigger U.S. military commitment in Libya and a more aggressive stance regarding unrest in Syria and Iran. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Neocons Regroup on Libyan War."]
Moving the Goal Posts
As for Iraq, the new neocon task is reworking the war rationale.