Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lute The Dupe

by P.M. Carpenter

"The fault, dear Brutus ..."

Looking every bit the three-starred, generally confounded kind of dupe who would agree to take Bush's Iraq war reins, the Army's Doug Lute testified before the Senate this week, and it wasn't pretty. It wasn't pretty at all.

It is unclear why -- other than out of a competitive spirit; even dupes in Dupedom do battle for top honors -- Lute accepted this most ignoble and impossible of missions. His anguished testimony was more that of a coroner than presidential adviser.

The jig, he said in so many words, is already up. Notwithstanding U.S. hectoring and surging, those sectarian mob families charitably called Iraqi political factions "have shown so far very little progress" in making, huh, any progress.

What's more, added the lieutenant general, "I have reservations about just how much leverage we can apply on a system that is not very capable right now." Not very -- as in not one iota, one whit, one measurable dram.

Yet only two months ago it seemed to retired Marine Corps General John Sheehan -- he who had refused a shot at Czaristic Dupedom -- that the larger problem was in Washington, not Baghdad; and to be even more geopolitically precise: the White House.

In his April 16 dressing-down of an op-ed in the Washington Post, General Sheehan went so far as to spell out in immensely brutal terms why he had said thanks, but no thanks, to the job. He "knew that a White House position of this nature would require interagency acceptance," and he saw none would be forthcoming. He knew that "Cabinet-level agencies, organizations and their leadership must buy in to the position's roles and responsibilities," and he saw they wouldn't.

"Most important," he wrote, "Cabinet-level personalities must develop and accept a clear definition of the strategic approach to policy," and he further saw there'd be no such development; or in the off chance there was, no such acceptance.

Why? Because after chatting with the president's entrenched and insider war-machine, Sheehan "found," astoundingly, "there is no agreed-upon strategic view of the Iraq problem or the region."

The White House was, and is, all over the strategic road, from "the Woody Hayes basic ground attack" strategy -- meaning just slogging it out block by block -- to the "security [with] benchmarks" strategy -- meaning meaningless timelines -- to the third strategy that answers the question of "where does Iraq fit in a larger regional context?" -- about which, as General Sheehan quickly reckoned, the administration is hopelessly, haplessly bewildered.

Its only discernible strategy, he candidly wrote, is the gasconade of bellowing "we are going to 'win,' even as 'victory' is not defined or is frequently redefined."

And with that, John Sheehan resigned from considering the job -- a luckless one, as he readily saw, doomed from within. Doug Lute, however, is scouting for blame elsewhere.

Edward R. Murrow once issued this caveat to Joe McCarthy, which today could apply to Czar Lute as well: "Had he looked ... in Shakespeare's 'Caesar,' he would have found this line, which is not altogether inappropriate: 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.'"

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

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