It looks like it's official. We're going to "cut and run" from Iraq.
Oh, to be sure, that's not what the standard press reports say. They say the president insists, "We will NOT cut and run from Iraq." But the media has proven singularly credulous (that's the most charitable way we can put it) regarding the administration's pronouncements on Iraq.
So herewith, a simple, foolproof system for understanding what is really going on: believe exactly the opposite of whatever the administration says. That's right. Whatever they say with regards to policy, you may be drop-dead certain the exact opposite is actually the truth.
This system's virtues are two-fold. First, it is absurdly simple. Any fool not aspiring to be a "professional" journalist can make it work from the comfort of his own home. Its second virtue is that it is unerringly accurate. It just never fails. Whatever they say, believe the opposite.
Let's see how it performs in service and then test it on the "cut and run" declaration.
In August of last year the administration said we had to invade Iraq because Iraq would not allow U.N. weapons inspectors inside. In fact, they allowed inspectors inside.
They said the inspectors were not being allowed to do their job. The inspectors announced that they had not been denied access to a single site.
The administration told us the Iraqis had been trying to buy processed uranium from Africa. Their own man on the scene, Joseph Wilson, had told them-and later the public-that this was not true.
They told us that "most experts believe" the aluminum tubes had no other use than in centrifuges for enriching uranium. In fact, their own experts had told them that the tubes were not suited for such purposes.
They said the Iraqis possessed "thousands of tons" of chemical and biological weapons. As it turns out, of course, they possessed none. None.
We were told the Iraqis had an advanced program in place to develop nuclear weapons. They simply had nothing of the kind. Nothing.
We were told the Iraqis had connections to Al Qaeda. The CIA's own report a year before the invasion denied any such connection. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Ladin are blood enemies.
We were bludgeoned with the intimation Iraq was behind the tragedy of 9/11. The truth, of course, is that they had nothing whatsoever to do with it. The president was forced to concede this recently, even against the continuing and embarrassing public insistence to the contrary by his own Vice President.
We were told Iraq posed an imminent threat to the security of the region. But not a single one of Iraq's neighbors claimed to feel threatened by Iraq.
We were told the invasion was approved by United Nations resolution but the U.N.'s Secretary General denied any such imprimatur and insisted the U.S. was in violation of both the U.N. charter and international law.
We were told before it started that there was simply no way to know what the war would cost. But Lawrence Lindsey's $200 billion estimate has proven eerily prescient if not conservative. Lindsey was hustled out of Washington faster than anyone since David Stockman let slip that supply side economics was a "Trojan Horse" for shifting more national wealth to the already fabulously wealthy.
The administration told us they had exhausted every single possibility of avoiding war. Now we learn that even in the final days before the war they were rebuffing urgent offers of settlement from senior Iraqi officials.
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We were told the invasion would make us more safe, that it would begin dismembering a global terrorist network. Now the CIA tells us the invasion has sparked a holy war against the United States, revitalizing global recruitment of young Muslims willing to die in order to bloody the US's nose. We are less safe.
We were told there was a "coalition of the willing" that supported our aims and would provide help in the project. Only England, ever ready to return the insult to its failed imperial rule, has proven willing while former allies Turkey, India, Pakistan, and now even Japan have snubbed us.
We were told that France, Germany, Russia and China, reluctant to miss out on a feeding frenzy, would sheepishly come aboard once the war was underway. They are nowhere to be found and we stand naked and increasingly isolated.
We were told that the war would prove a "cakewalk," that it would be "over in months, if not weeks." There's cake involved, it's true, but it's on Bush's and Cheney's and Rumsfeld's and Wolfowitz' faces.
We were told, "we know where the weapons are." Iraq is now the most inspected country in the history of the planet and not a single shred of weapons of mass destruction has been found.
We were told "we've found the weapons of mass destruction." They turned out to be two trucks for inflating weather balloons.
We were told our mission was to bring "democracy" to Iraq. But we also insisted we would never allow the Iraqis to elect a Shi'ite government. Shi'ites represent 60% of Iraq's population.
We were told we would be treated as liberators, that the Iraqis would be throwing flowers in our paths for rescuing them from an evil dictator. We were welcomed, all right, but with rocket propelled grenades, AK-47s, anti-tank mines and ambushes. Most Iraqis insist they were better off under Saddam Hussein.
We were told the invasion would be "self-funding," that Iraq's vast oil wealth would pay for the invasion, the occupation, and the rebuilding. Turns out it will not begin to come close and that the American citizens are picking up the tab to the tune of multiple billions of dollars a week.
We were told the international community would support us financially. The stated target of the Madrid Donor's Conference was $56 billion in pledges. Only $33 billion was actually raised with $29 billion of that put up by the U.S. and its front organizations.
Most recently, we were told things were going swimmingly and that it was only the negative media that was distorting the situation. In fact, there is chaos on the ground, demoralization among the troops, complete collapse of essential civic services and swelling rage massing throughout vast portions of the Iraqi population.
This is only a short list, hastily thrown together. Its purpose was to test the simplicity and the accuracy of the Do-It-Yourself-Bush-Iraq-Policy-Pronouncement-Divination-System. Whatever they say, know that the truth is the exact opposite.
The system's efficacy speaks for itself. And the only requirements for using it are that your IQ be larger than your belt size and that you not be a "professional" journalist.
Now for the final test. Here's the situation. The CIA's internal report (not the happy story offered for public consumption) says the situation is close to spiraling out of control. The locals smell blood. Bush's poll numbers are sinking like a hot rock through fresh snow. Elections are 12 months away. Karl Rove still sets policy in the White House.
Bush says the U.S. "will not cut and run from Iraq."
What else could it possibly mean?