Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Another decade in Iraq?

The Washington Post has a piece about an Illinois Democrat's experience on a recent trip to Iraq. Rep. Jan Schakowsky offers a glimpse into what it was like.
A co-founder of the House Out of Iraq Caucus, Schakowsky saw only fleeting glimpses of Iraqis' day-to-day life during her one-day trip. The few times she ventured out of the Green Zone, she was in a helicopter or a speeding convoy, soldiers hanging out of the windows with machine guns, obscuring the view. She heard about dire power and water shortages, yet saw nothing firsthand.

But the military presentations left her stunned. Schakowsky said she jotted down Petraeus's words in a small white notebook she had brought along to record her impressions. Her neat, looping handwriting filled page after page, and she flipped through to find the Petraeus section. " 'We will be in Iraq in some way for nine to 10 years,' " Schakowsky read carefully. She had added her own translation: "Keep the train running for a few months, and then stretch it out. Just enough progress to justify more time."

"I felt that was a stretch and really part of a PR strategy -- just like the PR strategy that initially led up to the war in the first place," Schakowsky said. Petraeus, she said, "acknowledged that if the policymakers decide that we need to withdraw, that, you know, that's what he would have to do. But he felt that in order to win, we'd have to be there nine or 10 years."
So obviously not everyone comes away from Iraq learning the same lessons. Which is to be expected, I suppose.

You-know-who came up in the article as well:
But it wasn't just Republicans who came away impressed after visiting Iraq. Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) announced that he will no longer support a timetable for withdrawal, warning of a "potentially catastrophic effect" on the region.

Schakowsky acknowledged that the military's presentation may have been effective. "If you took the briefings at their face value, without context, without bringing anything to it -- clearly they were trying to present that positive spin, and that's what [other lawmakers] took away from it."

Everyone please note that Schakowsky is not a blogger, but rather a member of Congress. It is Schakowsky who is raising concerns about the PR aspect and the possibility of another decade in Iraq.

Obviously, we think it's an important point or we wouldn't link to it, but as there seems to be a hint of hippie hatred swirling around the entire debate, let's be clear about things. People far more important than us have serious concerns about how this is being sold to the American people.

To the extent blogs matter, they can only help amplify bits of information that might not be featured as prominently in traditional media. While The Washington Post is hardly an unknown newspaper, it does not follow that everyone in WA-03 will necessarily see the Schakowsky article in their local newspaper tomorrow, and it offers a point of view that is quite at odds with that Baird is offering his district. So those who wish may go read the entire Post article and consider it on its merits.

Seeing as anyone with any kind of political sense can detect the coming administration PR offensive, it's perfectly legitimate to point out the differing views of various members of Congress, journalists, pundits and fellow bloggers.

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