The war in Iraq, however straightforward it should be, has descended into a political nightmare for everyone. The Bush Admin hasn’t laid out a cogent argument in ages… (although with Gillespie’s arrival things are MUCH better) The Dems are caught between MoveOn.org and Sanity. 2008 is nipping at every one’s heels. Negative ads are about to become a very large part of the Democrat & Republican primary battles. I can’t remember a political season more filled with the “politics of personal destruction.” This year, it really is the ugliest ever. Maybe we need the NTSB to come and reconstruct the scene of the political crash.

Plenty of folks are out there to cloud up Gates’ words, attack every aspect of the President and the War in Iraq. After a week where General David Petraeus was pilloried and accused of betraying the country he has served in uniform since 1974 – I thought it might be time to just see what the DoD has to say. Military progress is being made, inch by inch. (No one, as far as I can tell, noted that the benchmarks NOT met were those where the State Department is best equipped to lead)

Instead of attacking Robert Gates, David Petraeus, the US Armed Forces, and Iraqi politicians who depend on real leadership from the US State Department — Why does the press continue to give SecState Condi Rice a free pass on her primary duty, managing the diplomatic & political efforts and objectives of the US, on behalf and at the behest of our President?

Hasn’t enough dust cleared? If the military is achieving all it can – without further diplomatic/political progress – then the next step is the State Dept taking the lead on building institutions and providing institutional knowledge to the fledgling Iraqi government???? I simply don’t get it. Why is everyone afraid of holding Condi Rice to account with the same level of scrutiny afforded Bush, Gates, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Clinton, Reno, Aspin, Nixon, Haldeman?

Other than Bush & Cheney, the following folks bear the most responsibility for our current Iraq policy: RUMSFELDPOWELLCONDI RICE. Reading these articles and books, as well as George Tenet’s At the Center of the Storm, the theme is clear. Bush listens to Condi. Condi listens to Bush. Folks, if that IS true – then attacking David Petraeus or Robert Gates or Alberto Gonzales, or even President Bush – ain’t gonna ring the right bell. Everyone of the big players has a Constitutionally mandated duty. Members of the US Congress need to do theirs (Appropriations) before they lose any sleep over Iraq or the Bush Administration’s policies. Until everyone is accomplishing something real – it’s all empty rhetoric.

The single exception is this: Condi Rice, by allowing herself to be characterized as having “an intense personal relationship” with the Leader of the Free World, it’s too juicy to let it go. It’s disrespectful of First Lady Laura Bush, President Bush. IN. THAT. ORDER. — and by stating some of the things she has – the dial has been turned back 100 years for women in the workplace. There won’t be progress until everyone calls Rice to account for her portfolio.

The US Armed Forces have – and continue – to execute their duties with honor. When will Congress and the Secretary of State do the same?

No wonder the world isn’t focusing on fixing life for women in Iraq, or any Islamist state – where genital mutilation, forced marriage, and a lack of education prevent them from breaking the cycle of violence in their own lives. It is a shame no one sends that in a note to George at the end of the day.

— Media Lizzy

The Consequences Of Getting This Wrong For Iraq, For The Region, For Us Are Enormous”

Secretary Of Defense Bob Gates Discusses The Webb Bill, The Consequences Of Failure In Iraq, And The U.S.’s Long-Term Goals For Troop Levels In Iraq

Secretary Gates: “I Would” Recommend A Veto Of The Webb Bill. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: “Senator Jim Webb of Virginia wants to pass a bill that would say that troops must spend as much time at home as their previous tour in Iraq. And it appears that they’re getting close to the 60 votes they need to pass the Senate. Would you recommend a veto of that bill?” GATES: “Yes, I would. … [I]t would be extremely difficult for us to manage that. It really is a back-door way to try and force the president to accelerate the drawdowns. Again, the drawdowns have to be based on the conditions on the ground. … Extensions are a possibility if we were to have to comply with a law like that, that gave us no flexibility.” (ABC’s “This Week,” 9/16/07)

· “We Would Have To Cobble Together Units From Various Smaller Units And Individuals That Wouldn’t Have Trained Together.” GATES: “We would have to cobble together units from various smaller units and individuals that wouldn’t have trained together. These are a number of the force management issues that we would have to deal with, and you end up with a force that goes in — we would have to gap units.”

· “We Would Have Gaps In The Combat Operations, Where A Unit Would Be Pulled Out Before Its Replacement Got There.” GATES: “We would have gaps in the combat operations, where a unit would be pulled out before its replacement got there, and there might be a period of weeks there. And you wouldn’t have any overlap that we use for situational awareness and so on. So the point is — and we would have to manage the force by individuals, not by units.”

· “The Waiver Is Limited To Operational Emergencies. When You’ve Got Two Active Combat Theaters, Trying To Manage To This Kind Of Legislation Is Extremely Difficult.” STEPHANOPOULOS: “But Senator Webb, he’s accommodated some of your concerns by delaying the implementation date and also that the bill has a waiver — a national security waiver — that the president can implement if he wants to. That’s not good enough?” GATES: “The waiver is limited to operational emergencies. When you’ve got two active combat theaters, trying to manage to this kind of legislation is extremely difficult. After all, we’re having difficulty trying to keep to my policy of 15 months deployed, 12 months at home for the active force and a full- year mobilization limit on the Guard and reserve. We’re having enough trouble trying to make that work without the strictures of legislation.”

“I Think People Need To Also Be Talking About Are The Consequences Of Getting This Thing Wrong.” GATES: “[I]f I’m disappointed in the quality of the debate here in Washington about anything, it is the failure to address consequences. If we get this next phase wrong — no matter how you feel about how we got to where we are, the consequences of getting this wrong for Iraq, for the region, for us are enormous. The extremist Islamists were so empowered by the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. If they were to be seen or could claim a victory over us in Iraq, it would be far, far more empowering in the region than the defeat of the Soviet Union. So I think we — as we think about — everyone is focused on timetables and this, that and the other thing. What I think people need to also be talking about are the consequences of getting this thing wrong.” (Fox’s “Fox News Sunday, 9/16/07)

“100,000 Troops For At Least 10 Years” Is “A Mischaracterization. …We Would Have A Much More Limited Role.” STEPHANOPOULOS: “So, the president’s opponents are starting to fill in the definition of what that enduring presence in Iraq will be. The speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, said it means more than 100,000 troops for at least 10 years at a cost of $700 billion. Is that fair?” GATES: “No, I actually think that’s a mischaracterization. I think what the president has in mind, what we have in mind, is that assuming the conditions prevail in Iraq that allows us to continue the drawdowns that the president has talked about, the idea is that we would have a much more limited role in Iraq for some protracted period of time, as a stabilizing force, a force that would be a fraction of the size of the force that we have there now and one that would carry out limited missions: border security, going after the terrorists, training and equipping the Iraqi forces. But it would be a relatively small force.” (ABC’s “This Week,” 9/16/07)

On MoveOn.Org’s “General Betray Us” Ad: “I Thought The Ad Was Despicable.” CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: “[L]et’s talk about that MoveOn.org ad about General Betray Us that has caused a lot of comment. What are your thoughts about an attack on the integrity of a U.S. commander leading American men and women in the middle of a war?” GATES: “I thought the ad was despicable.” (Fox’s “Fox News Sunday, 9/16/07)