Last night I watched a little bit of the Condoleezza Rice debriefing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As usual, she masterfully eluded clarity presenting the Senate with a virtual rice pudding of half muddled answers. I don't know why they even bothered to waste their time on her but maybe she said something that mattered. CBS News carried a little bit of her talk while PBS covered perhaps another minute or two of the debate.
At one point she was asked if the US would perhaps be able to begin troop withdrawals sometime within the next five years and she gave no hope at all of that, so the same senator asked her the same thing but asked if it would begin within the next ten years and again she gave no sign at all that she was hopeful. Instead, she talked about the hopeful signs all over Iraq that the Iraqis were taking responsibility for their own governance.
In the television debate on PBS that followed their coverage of this event, the commentators discussed this issue, but their discussion was along the lines of when the US might be able to begin withdrawing troops. What they didn't discuss was what Ms. Rice was actually saying. In fact, I don't think I have ever, and I do mean ever, watched or listened to a news show that actually considered the real Bush plan for US troops in Iraq. It's not that the Bush Administration hasn't ever expressed themselves about this issue either. They have, and quite clearly. Rather, it's that the news shows always choose not to see what is being said.
Now I will concede that the message from the White House and the Pentagon is confusing. On the one hand, this administration knows that the American people want the war to end, want the expense of destruction to cease, and want the troops back home where it is safe. The White House has been trying to appease this sentiment by not consistently presenting their plan for the troops. Instead, the White House presents the situation as though troop withdrawals are possible at any time, but we can't talk about that since it would encourage the enemy to wait us out, to hang on until we leave.
A rational mind would see that this is a bogus argument. A rational mind would understand that if this were the case, if the Americans were actually planning to leave Iraq when things settle down, the enemy would respond by laying low until the occupiers leave, and then launch their offensive. A rational mind would see that this isn't happening because the enemy, consisting mainly of Iraq's citizens, understands that the Americans have no intention of leaving Iraq even if peace were to break out.
But the American public's mind can't comprehend this notion. Americans want to believe that the US will withdraw from Iraq some time soon, as soon as Iraq can police itself. The American mind can't begin to comprehend what Rice and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush and all the Neo-cons know, that the US has committed its troops to Iraq for a very very long time and no matter what happens politically in Iraq, the troops are not coming home. The Middle East is the world's current "Cold War." Iraq is the new staging ground and refueling station for America's military threat. If there are wars to be fought in the Middle East, Iraq will be America's Middle East fortress for waging those wars. That is why the enemy won't just lay low till America withdraws its troops. There is no time in the foreseeable future for withdrawing America's troops from Iraq. That is the reality and that is why Rice could give no hope at all to the Senate yesterday that we would draw down our force in Iraq within the next ten years.
So why do we keep deluding ourselves by thinking otherwise?
If you don't agree with me, then I dare you to prove me wrong. Words won't do it, either. It would take actions to prove that what I am saying is wrong.