So, who won and lost this week after General Petraeus’s and Ambassador Crocker’s testimony?
Policy Winners and Losers
MoveOn.org is probably the most obvious loser. Yes, Petraeus did play games with the numbers but “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” Come on! Rickety poetry makes for poor framing. Besides, the frame is only as good as the underlying message.
George W Bush is still running rings around the Congressional Democrats who cannot get themselves to tie funding to a sensible strategy. Remaining in control of policy, Bush is continuing his ascent. Stuck with Bush’s non-strategy, the Democrats have lost this week in the policy arena.
Political Winners and Losers
Republicans in Congress are the clear losers. Unless they can get George W Bush to formulate a strategy that actually deals with the problems on the ground, the Norm Colemans in Congress might as well turn their office keys over to Al Franken & Co.
Juan Cole links Pepe Escobar’s excellent analysis of the al-Anbar myth. That gift won’t give forever because the center of gravity is in Baghdad’s sectarian war, southern Iraq’s fratricide of Shiite militias, and the Arab-Kurdish conflict in the north.
Stuck with Bush, neither Republicans in Congress nor their presidential candidates have much hope of improving their position until the 2008 elections.
I guess, hope springs eternal and matters might improve accidentally.
Strategic Winners and Losers
The United States of America is the global loser because she remains stuck in the Iraq quagmire that exhausts her military and financial resources.
Thus al-Qaida in Iraq wins a second lease on life and the opportunity to reconstitute. The Taliban continue to roam Afghanistan because the twenty thousand troops that should restore order at the Hindukush remain trapped at the Tigris and Euphrates.
The absence of American strategic reserves benefits Iran. Ahmadinejad can continue to bait us in the full knowledge that all he has to fear are air strikes.
The inability of the United States of America to formulate and implement a strategy that would actually reflect her interests benefits most of all aspiring world power China. As America depletes her military and her treasure, the consequences of the adventure in the Middle East will constrain her ability to project power for decades. America’s weakness creates substantial opportunities for the People’s Republic of China, especially in Africa and the Far East, to put her foreign currency reserves to good use.