Well, the dog and pony show is over – the one involving General David Petraeus, our senior commander in Iraq; Ryan Crocker, our ambassador to Iraq; President Bush; our “distinguished” politicians on Capitol Hill; and a disgraceful performance by MoveOn, a cash cow for Democratic Party candidates.

Unfortunately, what we all waited for with bated breath was leaked beforehand by several sources, including Petraeus himself and President Bush. In a nutshell: we might bring home a few troops by next year (resulting in the same level of servicemen in Iraq before the “surge”); we need to stay in Iraq until things there get noticeably better; to pull out sooner or to bring most of the troops home will leave most Iraqis as pulverized as the victims in the collapsed World Trade Center Towers.

American casualties in Iraq since the war began are approaching 4,000. The number of wounded, which includes totally debilitated veterans, is estimated at nearly 28,000. At least 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, most by sectarian violence. And several million have been forced from their homes, although many with housing are not much better off. Much of the country lacks domestic drinking waster, electricity, fuel oil, and other utilities that most of us take for granted. An ethical question thus arises: before we pull out altogether, don’t we owe something to the people of Iraq – after leaving the place in a virtual shambles and the prospect of a political settlement improbable?

Add to all this the fact that the cost of the Iraq war could exceed $1 trillion, and there is no end in sight. The Congressional Budget Office reports we are spending $200 million a day. So far, according to the American Enterprise Institute, the war has already cost $500 billion, another $500 billion likely, with the U.S. bearing most of the burden. Before that comes the military and civilian casualties in the war, and the prediction by General Petraeus that a U.S. presence in Iraq and various southwest Asian countries could last another ten years.

All evidence seems to point to the fact that we are no closer to ending the war in Iraq and creating a stable government there than we were four years ago. Petraeus, Crocker, and Bush argue that if we leave Iraq prematurely, the result will be total disaster. But according to The Economist (Sept. 15, 2007), “the disaster that Mr. Crocker and others say will befall Iraq if America leaves has already happened.”

Now to the issue of MoveOn (MoveOn.org). The online blog took out a full-page ad in The New York Times, calling General Petraeus “General Betray Us.” The reaction of the public, as well as that of a bipartisan group of 51 senators repudiating the ad for attacking the character of a highly-decorated, four-star general who oversees all U.S. forces in Iraq, was one of dismay and resentment . A West Point graduate, Petraeus was the top graduate of the 1983 class of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He subsequently obtained an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. Petraeus is considered by many to be the most intellectual general since George Washington and there is no evidence whatsoever that he is not honest and above board in all respects. When questioned by Senator John Warner if following Petraeus’ recommendations would make America safer, the general answered forthrightly, “Sir, I don’t know.” 

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During the hearings on Capitol Hill, many politicians used their time to bloviate and pontificate instead of asking questions of the general. Senator Barack Obama made a speech which ended with his intention to have all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2008. Hillary Clinton, who initially supported the war in Iraq, insulted the general to his face, saying his testimony “required the willing suspension of disbelief.” In other words, general, you’re an outright liar. The language sounded like it came directly from her attack dog political consultant, Howard Wolfson. More on Wolfson’s bare-knuckle brand of politics in a future blog. Does it come as a surprise that the latest Gallup Poll finds the approval rating of Congress the lowest it has been since the first public opinion poll was taken in 1974? Just 17% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing.

MoveOn, as noted earlier, is a nonprofit Democratic advocacy organization, funded largely by George Soros, one of the world’s wealthiest men. He has contributed at least $5 million to MoveOn, and is considered, according to The Washington Post, to be “the major financial player of the left.” Soros, in effect, has referred to Bush and his administration as Nazis, saying the Bush rhetoric “reminds me of the Germans and memories of Nazi slogans on the walls.”

MoveOn is no stranger to criticism for its internet content. Move on produced a video ad which ran during the 2005 Thanksgiving holidays, stating that “150,000 American men and women are stuck in Iraq this holiday season.” A closer examination showed that the uniforms of the soldiers shown were British, not American. After the Pentagon verified that the servicemen and servicewomen shown eating military rations were not Americans, MoveOn ultimately removed it from its website.

Ill will between Republicans and Democrats, and between Americans and their elected officials can only be nurtured by these irresponsible antics. One can only hope that the election of 2008 will not revive the equivalent of Nixon’s “dirty tricks” engineered by CREEP (The Nixon Committee to Re-elect the President). Among those signing a letter repudiating the attack on the character of General Petraeus are Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Kit Bond, Kay Bailey Hutchison, LamarAlexander, Pete Domenici, Olympia Snowe, Elizabeth Dole, and John Warner.


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