And the Long War rolls on.  This week, the President plays Three-Card Monty with troop numbers, mentioning the possibility of maybe the consideration of troop withdrawal at some point in the future…kind of.  Gen. Petraeus is fighting at home so we can fight more over there and there’s always the case being made that the “serious people” want to want to bomb the crap out of Iran.

Ahh, Magical September.
But it seems the vigilant Keith Olbermann figured out the real plan this week:

And so he is back from his annual surprise gratuitous photo-op in Iraq, and what a sorry spectacle it was.

But it was nothing compared to the spectacle of one unfiltered, unguarded, horrifying quotation in the new biography to which Mr. Bush has consented.

As he deceived the troops at Al-Asad Air Base yesterday with the tantalizing prospect that some of them might not have to risk being killed and might get to go home…

Mr. Bush probably did not know that, with his own words, he had already proved that he had been lying… is lying… will be lying…. about Iraq.

He presumably did not know, that there had already appeared those damning excerpts from Robert Draper’s book “Dead Certain.”

“I’m playing for October-November,” Mr. Bush said to Draper.

That, evidently, is the time during which, he thinks he can sell us the real plan.

Which is, to quote him: “To get us in a position where the presidential candidates, will be comfortable about sustaining a presence.”Comfortable” — that is — with saying about Iraq, again quoting the President, “stay… longer.”

And there it is, Sir.

The Long War rolls on.  While bombing Iran may still be up in the air, the original plan — to make the Long War the next President’s legacy as much as it is Bush’s legacy now — continues.

We’ve caught you.

Your goal is not to bring some troops home — maybe — if we let you have your way now;

Your goal is not to set the stage for eventual withdrawal;

You are, to use your own disrespectful, tone-deaf word, playing at getting the next Republican nominee to agree to jump into this bottomless pit with you, and take us with him, as we stay in Iraq for another year, and another, and another, and anon.

Everything you said about Iraq yesterday, and everything you will say, is a deception, for the purpose of this one cynical, unacceptable, brutal goal — perpetuating this war indefinitely.

War today, war tomorrow, war forever!

A slight, but telling quibble I have with Olbermann here:  he seems to think the President is trying to pass the baton to a Republican nominee in 2008.  He’s really trying to assure the war will be fought by both parties.

Granted, the best way to do that is to hit Iran.  But short of that, running out the clock is a backup plan with seemingly 100% chance of success.  Nobody in our established press is calling out the White House on this kabuki play.  The Long War must be appeased.  It must be fed like the beast it is.  At this point the Democrats, the Republicans, the media, the military, all own the Long War.

Certainly the media now own this war.  They freely attack anyone who’s not on board this hurtling government train.

At first glance–as those who leaked it last week saw–the Government Accountability Office’s report on Iraq, released today, paints a dark view of progress and prospects in Iraq. Its subtitle offers the most attractive thesis to opponents of the current strategy: “Iraqi Government Has Not Met Most Legislative, Security, and Economic Benchmarks.” Its opening paragraph dourly states that “the Iraqi government met 3, partially met 4, and did not meet 11 of its 18 benchmarks.” Surely its release marks a grim moment for the Bush administration’s efforts to sustain their approach in the war. Or perhaps not.

The GAO report reflects everything that has been wrong with the discussion about Iraq since the end of 2006. Through no fault of the GAO’s, the organization was sent on a fool’s errand by Congress. Its mandate was not to evaluate progress in Iraq, but to determine whether or not the Iraqi government had met the 18 benchmarks. As a result, as the report repeatedly notes, the GAO was forced to fit an extraordinarily complicated reality into a black-and-white, yes-or-no simplicity. In addition, the GAO’s remit extended only to evaluating progress on the Congressionally-sanctioned 18 benchmarks, 14 of which were established between eight and 11 months ago in a very different context. As a result, the report ignores completely a number of crucial positive developments that were not foreseen when the benchmarks were established and that, in fact, offer the prospect of a way forward that is much more likely to succeed than the year-old, top-down concept the GAO was told to measure. As the situation in Iraq has been changing dynamically over the past eight months, as American strategy and operations, both military and political, have been adjusting on the ground to new realities, the debate in Washington has remained mired in the preconceptions and approaches of 2006. The GAO report epitomizes this fact.

Smoke and mirrors.  “You can’t trust a government report…unless it comes from the government.”

Already, the calls come for another few months to reach that crucial point that will turn Iraq around, just like the last Friedman Unit, and the one before that, and the one before that…

BAGHDAD — The No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq said Tuesday that the next three to four months will be crucial in determining whether the United States can start to withdraw troops from Iraq without sacrificing security gains since the troop buildup began early this year.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said the number of attacks in August fell to their lowest level in more than a year, although he gave no figures. Odierno insisted that overall violence was declining — a sign that the buildup ordered by President Bush was working.

We will never leave Iraq.  The generals that replace Odierno and Petraeus will say the same thing during the next Administration.  They will be championed by the Fred Kagans and Michael Ledeens in the media.  They will be supported by the Democrats who want to sound tough on Iran and the ones who fail to stop the march to Tehran.  Certainly the GOP candidates are on board to keep us in Iraq forever and point us towards Iran.

Taking his fearmongering to new heights, yesterday on Hannity and Colmes, Thompson claimed that withdrawal from Iraq would lead to “the whole” Middle East going “nuclear”:

    If we leave [Iraq] under bad circumstances, we’re going to have a haven down there for terrorists. The whole area, I’m afraid, will become nuclearized. The Sunni countries are looking at what Iran is doing. And if we can’t help with stability in that part of the world, they’re going to help themselves, and they’re going to go nuclear.

And so the Long War rolls on.

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