Fred Kaplan has a good piece at Slate on the questions that Congress should ask General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker when they report next week. As Kevin Drum notes, towards the end Kaplan quotes military analyst Stephen Biddle (an adviser to the Administration):
Biddle also said (again, expressing his personal view) that the strategy in Iraq would require the presence of roughly 100,000 American troops for 20 years—and that, even so, it would be a "long-shot gamble."
"The strategy" being the bottom-up attempt to achieve reconciliation among factions like the reconciliation between the US and Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar. Leaving aside all the questions Kaplan raises about why it may be not only harder but impossible to reconcile the Iraqi factions, is this "long-shot gamble" what the Democrats in Congress really want? And can we afford it?
Meanwhile, the GAO Report says that nearly all benchmarks are failing to be met in Iraq and that the Administration's statistics claiming to show the opposite are bogus. And the report issued by a 20-member Commission headed by retired General Jones says that our excessive footprint in Iraq is actually counterproductive to our stated aims and also says that any declines in Baghdad sectarian violence are probably the result of ethnic cleansing. General Jones also says we can begin withdrawing early next year. And everyone agrees that we will have to start bringing home some troops next year because we don't have the replacements for them.
And yet, our Democratic Congress appears ready to give the Bush/Cheney regime its demanded $200 billion Iraq Supplemental funding even though the Bush/Cheney regime can't get its request together in a timely way. (via Atrios.) They appear ready to abandon the plan to impose withdrawal timetables, all in a futile effort to get a few GOPers to join them. But why? With the public--virtually the entire known universe on their side, why are the Dems thinking so small? Why aren't they making the GOP own and defend this unpopular war?
And over at the economy, the jobs report showed a net loss for the first time in 4 years, the Dow Jones average is down 200 points at this moment and the subprime mortgage mess threatens to morph into a recession, at least in several of the most populous parts of the country. As if this were not enough, the cumulative debt has gone over $ 9 trillion. This is more than the current debt ceiling of $8.965 trillion, (raised 4 times already during the Bush/Cheney regime) but there are some items that are not subject to the limit, so the Treasury may still be able to borrow money for a short while.
With all this factual firepower and with not only the approriations power but the leverage of the debt ceiling, why oh why can't the Democrats learn to stand strong and do what the public wants instead of capitulating to the Bush/Cheney regime at every turn?