The Surge

THE SURGE….Michael Crowley reports on a lunch he attended with an unnamed but “prominent” Republican senator on Wednesday:

On Iraq, this senator said he expects that, come September and the Petraeus-Crocker report, the White House will announce “a transition to a new approach.” He thinks that will involve a non-trivial drawdown of troops, and a returned emphasis to training Iraqi forces, though he wasn’t too clear beyond that. He also said such a shift would head off any possible collapse in congressional GOP support for the war.

Obviously this has to be taken with a grain of salt since there’s no telling how much this unnamed senator is actually privy to. If he’s right, however, it’s a pretty stunning example of just how unseriously the Republican Party takes national security these days.

Think about it. When September rolls around Petraeus and Crocker plainly won’t be able to report any political progress in Iraq. After all, there hasn’t been any yet, and the Iraqi parliament is on vacation for the next month. What’s more, even on the military front Petraeus will be unable to claim anything but the slimmest progress. There’s simply no credible way in which anyone will be able to claim that the surge has made enough progress on any front that its job is done and it can start to be wound down. And yet, not only does our unnamed senator think that’s what the White House will announce, he also thinks this “new approach” charade will successfully pacify the brewing Republican revolt against the war.

Now, this senator may or may not know what Bush is intending to do. But presumably he knows Senate Republicans pretty well, and his assessment of his colleagues is damning. Elaborate rationales aside (and I’m sure we’ll hear them by the bucketload), for anyone who cares about the actual reality of Iraq there’s simply no coherent argument for supporting the surge in March and then, six months later, supporting its end even though it plainly hasn’t accomplished its goals. You can only do that if you consider Iraq a political game rather than a serious foreign policy problem. Apparently they do.