A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
As hard as they struggled this morning, three top defense officials could not ease concerns about the worsening situation in Iraq in the wake of increased violence and troop deployments to Baghdad. Donald Rumsfeld made a last second determination that he in fact wasn't too busy to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and was joined by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace and Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East.
The witnesses were all too happy to agree with Republican fluff questions about how leaving Iraq would embolden the terrorists, but were forced to admit to harsh realities when their feet were put to the fire. "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular," Abizaid conceded. "And that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war."
While it is obvious to many that Iraq is already in a civil war, the fact that Abizaid, as well as Pace, publicly recognize its potential shows just how bad the situation really is. More troubling is that its likelihood in their minds is only getting stronger. When asked if he anticipated the mere possibility of a civil war just one year ago, Pace responded "No, sir." "It was clear to see that sectarian tensions were increasing," added Abizaid. "That they would be this high, no."
Even Rumsfeld was forced to backtrack under grilling from Sen. Hillary Clinton. "I have never painted a rosy picture about Iraq," he said. However, Think Progress already has an excellent challenge to this suggestion, offering just a few of his absurdly optimistic statements. For example, he once doubted the war would last as many as six months. That was on February 7, 2003.
The witnesses' claims suggesting conditions are better than they seem were overshadowed by a warning from Rumsfeld that our enemies were listening to hints of any problems, suggesting that Iran and North Korea would be more likely to attack us if they think we are weak. If the generals were testifying under this assumption, we have absolutely no way of knowing how accurate their predominantly positive statements were about the state of the war.
Despite this bias, none of them were prepared to offer a single prediction on how long their promises for peace would take, or how expensive it would be. Rumsfeld did, however, offer that he was confident that we will have fewer troops in Iraq a decade from now. Hey, at least they are finally starting to plan ahead.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS