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And the Band Played On

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Dana Milbank, probably among the most intelligent and intuitive of the Washington correspondents on the scene, has pretty well nailed it;

Gen. Rorschach and the Iraq-Shaped Inkblot

Friday, September 7, 2007; Page A02

Which of the following best characterizes the situation in Iraq?

a. Impressive, effective and satisfactory?

b. Worrisome, alarming and weak?

If you chose (a), congratulations -- you are supported by Gen. James JonesSenate Armed Services Committee yesterday. and his commission studying security in Iraq. And if you chose (b), well, you are also supported by Jones and his commission, who presented their report to the

"Our overall evaluation is that real progress has been achieved," Jones told the senators, and then he qualified that judgment with words such as "uneven," "unsatisfactory," "overly sectarian" and "failed."

. . . It was, as more than one senator remarked, a case of what you see depending on where you stand. In that sense, Jones, a retired Marine general, served as a Rorschach inkblot for the coming Iraq debate. "The report has a little of something for everyone," Jones said with a smile after nearly four hours at the witness table. "It probably satisfied everybody or nobody -- I'm not quite sure which.". .

--read the article--

And so an administration aided and abetted by a Congress willing to have its belly scratched rather than act, has put us 'in the period of evaluation after General Petraeus's September report,' still feeling our way toward confrontation with this president.

Not yet confronting. That would be too brave, too politically dicey and would require a position. The current congressional position--on its back, with its feet in the air--satisfies no one but antagonizes no one, except those whose sons and daughters, fathers and mothers are dying in Iraq--on both sides.

We are a nation in stasis. A non-military force in rags has brought the mightiest uniformed military force on the face of the planet to its knees. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill and in the newspapers, televisions and dining-rooms of the nation, the band plays on.

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Jim Freeman's op-ed pieces and commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, International Herald-Tribune, CNN, The New York Review, The Jon Stewart Daily Show and a number of magazines. His thirteen published books are (more...)
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