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Joseph A. Palermo Headshot

Watch Congress Pretend It's Relevant on Iraq

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The only reason for the theatrical performance this week with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker is so the Senate can pretend that it has a say in what's going on in Iraq. Senators Biden, Lugar, Hegel, Levin, Warner, and others will cluck their tongues, feign relevance for a few days, and then cut the inevitable check for George W. Bush to continue his occupation of Iraq. Bush will win again. He'll get what he wants: The money to drop the war on the lap of the next president.

Any general who writes an op-ed favoring the reelection of his boss in the heat of a close campaign, as Petraeus did in September 2004, has forfeited any claim to being above partisanship in his role as the chief salesman for a used war the American people have long ago concluded is not worth the lives and money.

There's no point in hearing more testimony from Petraeus. Since when did we become beholden to the views one general? We live in a republic where civilians are in control of the military, right?

On September 26, 2004, Petraeus wrote: "Now, however, 18 months after entering, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up." On October 5, 2005 he said: "The developments over the next several months will be critical." What can we expect him to say this week?

In March 2003, Donald Rumsfeld said "baloney" after a reporter suggested that the war could cost as much as $300 billion (it has now cost us over $700 billion). George Tenet told the Senate under oath that he was "absolutely certain" caches of weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq. Condoleezza Rice spoke of "anticipatory self-defense" and "mushroom clouds" and aluminum tubes. Dick Cheney said that we'd be "greeted as liberators" and that there was no doubt that the Iraqis had "reconstituted nuclear weapons." And George Bush said that Iraq could attack the United States with chemical and biological weapons using "UAVs" ("unmanned aerial vehicles") launched from "platforms" off our shore. Five years later, do we really expect the people who are now serving this White House's "national security" agenda to begin telling us the truth?

Bush is saying to Congress: "Here, listen to my general and then cut the goddamn check!" And Congress, after a little posturing, will do just that.