May 2, 2007

LAWRENCE KAPLAN: Congressional leaders are illiterate on Iraq. Excerpt:

There are two possibilities: First, Reid and Pelosi could be purposefully minimizing the stakes in Iraq. Or, second, they don’t know what they’re talking about. My guess is some combination of the two. Political maneuvering certainly contributes to the everyday pollution of Iraq discourse. But a lot of the pollution derives from legislators being functionally illiterate about the war over which Congress now intends to preside. In this, of course, they’re hardly alone. The Bush administration’s wretched Iraq literacy has been well-chronicled. But, with Congress demanding a louder say in the management of the war, the same knowledge gap that plagued our arrival in Iraq looks like it will be revived just in time for our departure.

Whatever explains the literacy gap, this much at least is obvious: Having been called into being by politicians on both sides of the aisle, the war in Iraq no longer bears a relation to anything they say. You don’t need to cherry-pick quotes to prove the point: Nearly every time a senator’s mouth opens, something wrong comes out. . . . Most of all, illiteracy makes for good politics. There is the conviction, to paraphrase McCain, that winning a war takes precedence over winning an election. But it isn’t so clear that this conviction guides a partisan brawl in which the Senate majority leader can gush, “We’re going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war.” In such an environment, the subordination of facts to politics inform matters small and large, from the relatively trivial question of whether U.S. troops still operate in Tal Afar to enormous questions regarding the future of the U.S. enterprise in Iraq.

Via Ace, who has more excerpts.

UPDATE: Don’t miss this video, either.

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