The saddest song I ever heard.
I’m going to try to get through this without breaking down in tears. But I just don’t know.
“I listen to my generals. I’m not interested in polls, or what this political leader, or that says. And what my generals tell me, that’s what we’re going to do.”
— President George W. Bush, May 19, 2007
April 2, 9:30AM, Eastern Daylight Savings Time; Room 419 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, a hearing called by Senator Joseph Biden, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Witnesses included General Barry McCaffrey, Lieutenant-General William E. Odom, Major-General Robert H. Scales, Jr., and Ms. Michele Flournoy, President, Center for New American Security.
However I’m going to cogently summarize the most consequent points of the testimony provided by the witnesses, I strongly urge everyone to visit C-SPAN.org. Hear it for yourself.
(Recall, regardless that much that follows is going to be within quotation marks, this is a summary, a compilation of the testimony provided by the generals in this morning’s hearing.)
No loud voices filled with acrimony or finger-pointing. Just calm, deliberate, passionless monotone. “It’s over. It’s over. The Iraqi women are tired. Five and a half long years. They’re tired of the chaos. They’re tired of not having clean water to drink, or to cook with, or to bathe in. They’re tired of not having a sanitation system, or garbage collection. They’re tired of not having more than an hour or two of electricity. They’re tired of seeing kids not having a school they can go to, or husbands not having a job. Most of all they’re tired of all the death; their sons and their daughters, and their husbands and parents. They don’t care about democracy, they just want it to stop. And most of all, they blame the United States.
“What’s likely to happen is — whether it’s this year or three years from now — the power will be seized by a 2-star general from the Iraqi military who will run the country.
“They (everyone in Iraq) know we’re leaving. They know it’s over. All the generals know we’re leaving. Our military is worn out, and can’t go on much longer. You won’t hear this from anyone in the administration, but they know it too. They just want to be able to hang on until the next administration comes into office.”
That was “it,” the bottom line of what all three generals called a quagmire, a bottomless pit.
More than 4,000 good, decent, brave, very patriotic American military dead way before their time. Perhaps at least 100,000 American military scarred physically and emotionally and psychologically, and more than $2 trillion, maybe as much, when all is said and done, as $5 trillion poured into the sand so that what Iraq becomes after all of this is a country run by a 2-star dictator.
There was talk of what the United States should have done, and yet should do, and what’s going to happen whether we sponsor it or fight hard against it is that Iran will be brought in as the broker in chief. Iran doesn’t want an out-of-control conflagration on their border. So, after all our spent blood and treasure . . . that’s it: The second member of the Axis of Evil becomes the Decider in Iraq.
And just a note for those ideologues on the far-Left who have been screaming for us just to get up and leave, if not yesterday, certainly no later than by midnight tonight. As anyone who’s been in one of the combat arms of the military, the Army or the Marines, knows full well, the most danger-laden maneuver in any combat zone is leaving it. As General Odom said, “You can have a carefully planed strategy, but it’s hundreds of miles down the road to the waiting ships. Anything can happen. The military commander doesn’t operate in probabilities but in possibilities.” And in the words of General Scales, “We’re not going to just burn tens of billions in equipment. We’re going to have to remove almost all of it. And that’s going to take time and special planning.”
One of the last of the committee members to inquire was Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. “If it’s over, as you say, wouldn’t the most valuable thing the administration could do would be to begin a plan, an exit strategy?”
In varying terms on the same theme, all three generals responded, “The administration will never do that.”