What is it about the Maliki regime in Iraq which has enamored so many republicans to the point that they've become satisfied with the numbers of Americans killed in defense of the increasingly autocratic authority? What is it about Bush's Iraq junta which causes the GOP to go all warm and fuzzy and to deny that the soldiers killed every day in defending the ground that surrounds the seat of the recalcitrant Iraqi government aren't dying in vain?
We don't really need to ask republicans whether they think Bush's sacrifice of our nation's defenders to bolster the Iraqi regime is worth the loss of American lives. It would be amazing to find the president's party in the dark about the over 3700 U.S. troops who have been killed in action in Iraq, and the tens of thousands more who have been maimed and disabled in the effort to defend the republican's ambitions there. Although the lives (and deaths) of our soldiers in Iraq are rarely mentioned by the president and his republican enablers, there is certainly someone keeping count at the White House, the Pentagon, or in the republican chambers up on Capitol Hill as they maneuver their politics to 'stay the course' and repeatedly resist mandating any redeployment out of there.
In yesterday's Petraeus hearing in the Senate, at least one republican senator -- along with the (increasingly political) commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq -- indicated that they had some idea of the magnitude of the losses. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C), in questioning General Petraeus during the Senate committee hearing on his Iraq 'report', seemed to understand the gravity of the losses as he queried the general about the "(at least) 60 soldiers, airmen and Marines (who) are likely to be killed every month from now to July."
Graham wasn't asking the general about the anticipated sacrifices of American troops as any sort of rebuke. The senator was only interested in hearing the general echo his own indifference to, and apparent approval of, those deaths which both agreed were the anticipated price for their recommendation to continue "forward" with their cynical "surge" and occupation of Iraq.
Petraeus admitted to Graham that his recommendation to maintain, indefinitely, as many troops in Iraq as were there immediately following the elections last November which replaced Bush's republican majority in Congress with Democrats pledged to end the occupation, would result in at least 700 dead American soldiers. The predictions of the numbers of Americans killed is not an abstract expectation. ABC News, USA Today, the BBC and ARD German TV, took a poll in Iraq in March -- the third such survey -- which recorded that "the number of Iraqis who call it 'acceptable' to attack U.S. and coalition forces, 17 percent in early 2004, had tripled to 51 percent, led by near unanimity among Sunni Arabs."
“Would that be a yes?” Graham asked.
“Yes, sir. Sorry,” answered Petraeus.
“So you’re saying to the Congress that you know that at least 60 soldiers, airmen and Marines are likely to be killed every month from now to July, that we’re going to spend $9 billion a month of American taxpayer dollars, and when it’s all said and done, we’ll still have 100,000 people there, you believe it’s worth it in terms of our national security interests to pay that price?”
“Sir, I wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t have made the recommendations that I have made if I did not believe that,” Petraeus responded.
Kudos to the pair for being so forthright about the consequences of their recommendations and intentions for the occupation. There has been virtually none of that sort of frankness about the effects of continuing the escalated occupation from the White House. All of their portraits of their occupation and it's expected aftermath have been painted with rosy scenarios of success and victory. There will be no talk of casualties or costs coming from Bush as the lame-duck dictator satiates his megalomania Thursday night with another prime-time announcement of his intention to ignore the demonstrated will of the American people and press forward with his militarism.
Graham and Petraeus are wrong; more than just wrong in their prescription for 'success' in Iraq, or in their interpretation of what actions are in our 'national interest'. It's well reported how much the administration believed, and tried to convince Americans, that their invasion and overthrow would be short, inexpensive, and well-received by the Iraqis. It's no secret that, the mere fact of the need for a "surge" of force after six years of fighting in Iraq is a measure of abject failure for any of the administration rationales for invading and occupying.
Moreover, Petraeus seemed to undercut his commander-in-chief's argument about the threat from the 'Iraqi al-Qaeda' when he couldn't bring himself to answer whether he thought the Iraqi combatants would, as Bush has warned, "follow our troops home" if we withdrew.
But, there was a glaring omission from their colloquy. Neither man bothered to recognize -- in their testimony or in their recommendations -- how Americans might feel about sacrificing those American lives they so blithely offer up in defense of the foreign government of Iraq. Last September 11, a Zogby International poll showed that 58 per cent of respondents believed the war in Iraq had not been worth the loss of American lives.
Results published on the eve of this year's 9-11 anniversary from a New York Times/CBS News poll, echoed last year's, finding that 62 percent said the "war was a mistake," and 59 percent said that it was "not worth the loss of American lives and other costs."
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