In May of this year, Dick Cheney said the insurgency was in its "last throes." Since then, thousands of Americans and Iraqis have died or been wounded. Did Cheney make this statement because he simply wanted it to be true, or because he wanted to convince someone else it was true? Or did he know it was a simple lie, but that it was important to tell that lie to justify his continued support of the war? Or was it because he is simply confused by what is happening there; that what is happening does not fit into his neat little world of American dominion, Republican dogma, and neo-conservative predictions? Like the robot on Lost in Space, all Cheney (who is lost in a different kind of space) can think of saying is "Danger, Danger."
Could it be that what is happening in Iraq is so complex and byzantine that he, too, is confused? Could it be that the more he doesn't understand, the more confident he comes across, putting on that John Wayne smirk, but finding himself really lost in a sea of unfathomable facts and realities?
Only a month after the Vice President of the United States tells us that the insurgency is in its "last throes", we have the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, telling us: "Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years." Are we confused yet? Rumsfeld claimed that, as the insurgents become more desperate, the violence in Iraq will increase. No room for alternatives like: 1) as the insurgents have more successes, the violence in Iraq will increase; or 2) as the insurgents become stronger and better organized, the violence in Iraq will increase; or 3) as the insurgents contribute more and more to the devolution of Iraqi society, the violence in Iraq will increase; or 4) as the insurgents spark more internecine warfare and civil war, the violence in Iraq will increase. Just how confused do you have to be to focus on only one possibility, that the violence is increasing only because the insurgents are becoming more desperate?
At a hearing before Congress around the same time, Rumsfeld also said: "If this does go on for four, eight, 10, 12, 15 years -- whatever -- and I agree with General Myers, we don't know -- it is going to be a problem for people of Iraq. They are going to have to cope with that insurgency over time." Notice that this time he extended it to 15 years? And it must be so reassuring to the Iraqi people to know that Rumsfeld fears they may have to "cope" with ongoing slaughter and death for anonther 15 years.
And then we have the generals testifying before Congress saying one thing and then going on television and saying another. More confusion.
Gen John Abizaid and Gen George W. Casey, the two top commanders in Iraq, told Congress, among other things, that "Iraqi armed forces will not have an independent capability for some time." The Washington Post reported:
On Thursday, Casey said the "Iraqi armed forces will not have an independent capability for some time." The day before, he backed away from earlier predictions that a "substantial" number of U.S. troops could by withdrawn early next year. "Right now, we're in a period of a little greater uncertainty than when I was asked that question back in July and March," he told reporters Wednesday...On Thursday, the generals also told Congress that the number of Iraqi army battalions that can fight insurgents without U.S. and coalition help had dropped from three to one -- meaning about 750 Iraqi troops out of 200,000 being trained were capable of operating independently -- and that the security situation was too uncertain to predict large-scale U.S. troop withdrawals anytime soon.
But on television, the generals were "upbeat."
"There are peaks and valleys that you go through, but overall the trend is good," Abizaid told NBC's "Meet the Press." "We're certainly confident." The training of Iraqi security forces is "very much on track," Casey told ABC's "This Week."
Isn't all this crazy-making? The administration's confusion and confused message could not be more apparent. And in the middle of all of it, we have George Bush blithely continuing with his endlessly persistent declaration that "we will stay the course."
To paraphrase someone I can't remember, if confusion is the first step to knowledge, these guys must be geniuses.