In the shadow of General Petreus' long awaited report on the status of the Iraqi troop 'surge', George Packer in The New Yorker has written a sobering - and depressing - assessment of our way forward. At the end of the piece, he dismally concludes:
"The war was born in the original sins of deceptive salesmanship, divisive politics, and wishful thinking about the aftermath. The bitterness of that history continues to undermine American interests in Iraq and the Middle East today. President Bush will have his victory at any cost, with one eye on his next Churchillian speech and the other on his place in history, leaving the implementation of his war policy to an Administration that works at cross purposes with itself, promising freedom and delivering rubble. The opposition is plainly eager to hang a defeat around his neck and move on from what it always regarded as Bush’s war. Before the U.S. can persuade the world to unite around a shared responsibility for Iraq, Americans will have to do it first. The problems created by the war will require solutions that don’t belong to a single political party or President: the rise of Iranian power, the emergence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the radicalization of populations, the huge refugee crisis, the damage to a new generation of Iraqis who are growing up amid the unimaginable. Whenever this country decides that the bloody experience in Iraq requires the departure of American troops, complete disengagement will be neither desirable nor possible. We might want to be rid of Iraq, but Iraq won’t let it happen." (The New Yorker, 9/17/07)
Packer also draws the obvious conclusion that though many would like to make comparisons between our involvement in Iraq and the Vietnam war, the consequences of our folly this time around will be much more damaging.