Waiting for Petraeus

“The idea of waiting for Petraeus and giving him a chance has grown on Republicans.” — Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

That’s how Senate Republicans forgave themselves
for refusing to order Bush to start removing combat troops from Iraq by next year. No, not tomorrow or next week. Not even next month. The Iraq War will not be lost if we announce troop withdrawals, because it was lost before it began. But I believe Sen. Graham’s remark reveals the darker reason for Republican refusal to order troop withdrawal.

Gen. Petraeus is the last pitcher in a losing ballgame. Regardless of all the failures by civilian and military leaders who preceded him, Petraeus will get the loss. Not Bush, nor Cheney, or the already forgotten Rumsfeld. And surely not the Republican Party. At some future date, when even the obstinately clueless must admit we blew it, Republicans will turn to Petraeus and say, “We gave you a chance.” So it won’t be their fault another several hundred Americans and unknown thousands of Iraqis are killed. Or that our national security will have grown even more perilous.

Had Republicans voted for the withdrawal, they would have admitted their precious war was a complete failure. When they finally nail Petraeus to the wall of the Senate chamber, they can wash their hands of the war without ever taking an atom of responsibility for it, or its obscene continuation.

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