Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Iraq Hearings/Questionings

In addition to all the other questions about both the details and the big picture, please also keep in mind a set of questions while listening to, reading about, or humming along with Petraeus' and Crocker's testimony to Congress this week on Iraq progress/regress. The questions are:
  • What purposes or outcomes or situations are served by particular maneuvers in the details of both the political rhetoric and actual on-the-ground actions in Iraq? In other words, what are the reasons for a given policy or action?
  • What interests are served by a given policy or action? In other words, what particular problem is a policy or action intended to solve?
Lost in the daily political wrangling over Iraq and the rhetoric of winning and losing are the reasons for policies in the details and in the big picture. If we ask these questions, we might achieve a better understanding of what the real policy options are so that we can hopefully make wiser choices about what to do and how to reform policies that seem to fail repeatedly even to achieve their stated, immediate purposes. Otherwise, we really are lost in the rhetoric and caprice of "one more corner to turn."


Here's the thing...
No one, not Crocker or Petraeus can describe what success looks like. When asked by Levin, if all went well what would be an optimistic projection of U.S. troops levels at the end of 2008. Petraeus refuses to answer, saying he can’t know. So he won’t make projections of what success will look like. But both Crocker and Petraeus have absolutely no qualms about projecting the future if we withdrawal from Iraq. This to me is ridiculous. What is the plan for "victory"? What are the projections? They should have to answer those questions, especially when asking for a blank check.
What purposes are served by particular policies? What problems are they intended to solve? If the answer is "I don't know," then the policy is reduced to the absurdity of circularity (i.e., in foreign policy terms, a "quagmire").

1 comment:

MT said...

I reckon at this point the purposes are about 94% about ass-covering and staying out of jail, about 5% egregious new crimes, and say 1% worthy endeavor--the last just as evidence of good faith, should it ever get to the Hague.