The escalation failed to do the one and only thing it was supposed to do. The entire Iraq policy of George W. Bush has failed since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad. No amount of parsing or spinning can change those simple facts: the escalation is and was the wrong answer.
I chaired a hearing on the GAO Report yesterday, the report that stated that Iraqi civilians overall aren’t any safer, that the political benchmarks aren’t being met in Iraq, that, in short, none of the rationales for the escalation in Iraq have come to pass. It unfolds with maddening, enraging regularity: the Administration claims goals for their policy, they gradually back off of those goals and substitute smaller, less easily measured goals, and then muddy the waters hopelessly on whether even those modest new goals have been met. Time and again we’ve been through this.
That’s why the Congress set up some clear benchmarks to measure what’s happening in Iraq. Mitch McConnell praised the “clarity” those benchmarks brought to the debate. “Just wait until September,” they all said. “We put in these meaningful benchmarks, we can judge in September.”
Well, how do they judge those benchmarks now? Only three of 18 have been met. Another four were “partially met,” which sounds like a “Gentleman’s C” if I’ve ever heard of one (and, for anyone who saw my college transcript, I have.).
Judgment time is here, and the only verdict is the same one we had in January, the same one we've had for a long time in Iraq: the Bush policy is a tragic failure. It's a policy that not only isn't working; it can't work. A political solution in Iraq cannot come about without a clear deadline on where our troops will be pulling out. Only Iraqis can end this civil war, and they aren't - and won't be - making any progress with an open-ended, massive presence by our military in their country.
In an update on Kerry's DKos post, Kerry responded to the many questions of "what can we do about it?"...
A lot of you are asking about what we can do about it. That’s the right question. I can't guarantee success, but we're closer than we've ever been. The media swirl around this debate doesn't capture the dynamics I see in Congress. Republicans are much more nervous about this, and there's far less Democratic disunity than the media storyline portrays. I'm talking to my colleagues every day (I just got out of a caucus meeting), and the Bush-advanced fallacy that the escalation is working just isn't a big part of our discussions. I think we hammered that reality home pretty hard yesterday at the Foreign Relations Committee with some important validation from Sen. Lugar.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are not confident at all. Their party is being driven over the cliff by the President’s stubborn insistence on sticking to this failed policy. And they know it. No one wants to consign themselves to a permanent minority, but that's what's happening. They're not unified at all on this.
But the main question is: what can we do about it? I'm going to make this case in any way I can. Television, newspapers, you name it. There's no magic bullet to this; we simply need to apply as much pressure as possible in as many ways as possible. I'll be back with some specific actions from time to time because concerted action by many people toward a single goal gets the best results. But do as much as you can all the time. Drop by your representatives’ office and let them know your feelings. Write, call, fax, email, get in contact any way you can. These actions aren't glamorous, but they really do make a difference. And don't lose faith. The other side in this debate is intent on outlasting us, convinced that we'll give up. You and I have to make sure that they are wrong on that.
Kerry's opening statement from Tuesday Foreign Relations Committee on the GAO Iraq Banchmarks report is here.
Remember, as Kerry said, "there's far less Democratic disunity than the media storyline portrays," so keep an open mind when you read the latest spin piece from the N.Y.Times: Democrats Newly Willing to Compromise on Iraq.
Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.