In the course of a generally awful article, Byron York makes one claim that seems worth talking about:
But Reid and Pelosi lose if Bush wins. Given the position they have staked out for themselves, the best possible outcome is for Gen. David Petraeus to give a downbeat report on the surge when he comes before Congress in September. That would give tremendous momentum to those who want the quickest possible U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Perhaps this is the thinking in Washington. Perhaps this is what the Democrats themselves believe. Clearly, it is what York thinks will happen. In any case, it is wrong. A “downbeat report” on the “surge” by Petraeus and Crocker will not give momentum to supporters of withdrawal. By the crazy logic of the “centrist”, ISG-loving consensus developing in both parties now, a “downbeat report” on the “surge” will encourage most members of Congress to continue to support the war, but probably on the condition of changing the deployment inside Iraq. Lugar/Warner will be up, McLieberman will be down, but support for withdrawal will continue to be found among a minority of the Democrats and hardly any Republicans.
A “downbeat report” will mean that the security situation in Iraq is worse than “surge” backers have been claiming throughout the year (not that this will make them stop talking about how the next new plan will succeed and should be given plenty of time, etc.) and that Iraq is therefore not substantially closer to being capable of providing for its own internal security. Since the ISG-lovers of the Lugar/Warner/Levin persuasion believe that leaving Iraq without such a capability would be “irresponsible,” they might very well push for yet another change in tactics but would become even more adamant in rejecting arguments for withdrawal. Thus this foreign policy “centrism” guarantees that the more ineffective the current plan is, the more essential it will be to remain in Iraq until the right plan is found, which means that the war will never end. It’s a strange concept, but one essential to understanding the idiocy of our rulers: continuing wars no matter what is the wise and prudent course, and ending them (even when they cannot be won) is dangerous.
Of course, the proper pro-withdrawal argument is that there is no “right plan” because the political track in Iraq is hopelessly paralysed and useless, so there is nothing significant that even marginal improvements in security and security training will change. The “surge” may be ameliorating some of the symptoms of Iraq’s political ruin, but it cannot solve them, and it cannot on its own overcome the levels of violence that continue to wreck that country. The pro-withdrawal argument is that we should come home because nothing more can profitably be done at acceptable cost to the United States. To call this betting on failure, as York does repeatedly, is a typical misrepresentation. For these pro-war people, American soldiers really are just chits to be thrown on a gaming table, except that, unlike in gambling, you cannot win any of your losses back. Like a gambling addict, the dedicated war supporter will never step away from this hated table, because for this obsessive to cut his losses and stop before he loses even more is to admit failure, when failure has already been staring him in the face for a very long time.