It’s widely assumed that the administration scheduled General Petraeus’ testimony before congress on 9/10 and 9/11 to emphasize “what’s at stake,” but to me, it only emphasizes why I can’t fully trust what I’m being told.
If the administration dishonestly linked 9/11 and Iraq to start a war, if they cherry picked or invented evidence to justify the war, if they strong-armed the White House press corps to suppress dissent on the war, how can we believe their evidence to justify continuing the war?
I want to trust someone. I want to believe General Petraeus is an honest, principled man. However, I can’t ignore what appears to be this administration’s tendency to surround themselves with “yes” men. Do we believe the general when he tells us Iraqi deaths are down, or do we believe some press reports which suggest they may still be trending up? (The AP suggests it’s still trending up, but some other surveys do tend to agree with the General’s assessment.) Do we believe the general when he tells us the progress in Anbar can be attributed to the surge, or do we believe common sense which tells us the violence started coming down several months before the surge started? Do we believe his comments that Anbar may be evidence of reconciliation, or do we share others’ fears that it is evidence of Sunnis consolidating their power for an inevitable clash with a Shiite dominated government in Baghdad? (“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”) Do we celebrate the evidence that fewer people are being killed in Baghdad, or do we morn the evidence that there aren’t nearly so many Sunis left in Baghdad for Shiites to kill? Do we take the General at his word that the Iraqi security forces are getting better, or do we worry that the predominently Shiite Iraqi security forces seem to focus on Sunni militias? Should we be optimistic because of his reassurance that al-Quaeda’s presence in Anbar is declining, should we be wary because others feel al-Quaeda’s numbers are rising in Ninevah, or do we once again shout out in frustration that al-Quaeda may not have been there at all if not for this damn war?
I want to trust someone, but these days has to be earned. Thanks to Bush and Cheney it won’t come cheap.