And the Band Played On
Gen. Rorschach and the Iraq-Shaped Inkblot
By Dana Milbank
Friday, September 7, 2007; Page A02
Which of the following best characterizes the situation in Iraq?
a. Impressive, effective and satisfactory?
b. Worrisome, alarming and weak?
If you chose (a), congratulations -- you are supported by Gen. James Jones and his commission studying security in Iraq. And if you chose (b), well, you are also supported by Jones and his commission, who presented their report to the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.
"Our overall evaluation is that real progress has been achieved," Jones told the senators, and then he qualified that judgment with words such as "uneven," "unsatisfactory," "overly sectarian" and "failed."
. . . It was, as more than one senator remarked, a case of what you see depending on where you stand. In that sense, Jones, a retired Marine general, served as a Rorschach inkblot for the coming Iraq debate. "The report has a little of something for everyone," Jones said with a smile after nearly four hours at the witness table. "It probably satisfied everybody or nobody -- I'm not quite sure which.". .
An administration aided and abetted by a Congress willing to have its belly scratched rather than act, has put us 'in the period of evaluation after General Petraeus's September report,' still feeling our way toward confrontation with this president.
Not yet confronting. That would be too brave, too politically dicey and would require a position. The current congressional position--on its back, with its feet in the air--satisfies no one but antagonizes no one, except those whose sons and daughters, fathers and mothers are dying in Iraq--on both sides.
We are a nation in stasis. A non-military force in rags has brought the mightiest uniformed military force on the face of the planet to its knees. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill and in the newspapers, televisions and dining-rooms of the nation, the band plays on.