COME, LOOK AT IRAQ THROUGH OUR STRAW.

Eric Martin has an excellent couple of posts on how the mainstream media, having spent the last few years shrugging furiously over their complicity in selling the neocons' "9/11WMDAlQaedaSaddamOMG!!!1!!" argument for the Iraq war, now seem intent on repeating that mistake by accepting the neocons' "SurgeSuccessAnbarVictoryOMG!!!1!!" story.

One really has to marvel at the discipline of the conservative noise machine; its ability to hammer incessantly at a settled-upon narrative is rivaled only by its ability to ignore evidence that fails to conform to said narrative. Having convinced a large segment of the media to come get high with them, conservatives now feel emboldened to attack Democrats for not smoking up as well.Fred Barnes, auditioning for the role of McCain court hagiographer, proclaims that St. John's surge in the polls mirrors that of the surge in Iraq. Jonathan Last mocks Democrats for not recognizing his personal fantasies about Iraq as fact. The title of Last's piece, "Democrats Double-Down on Iraq," while I guess a reference to their debate being held in Las Vegas, represents a pretty egregious bit of projection. The fact is that it has been President Bush, egged on by the desktop warriors at the Standard, who has responded to every loss in Iraq, every setback, by committing more American blood and treasure to his Iraq gamble. The result is that even if we granted the "success of surge" as it's being presented, we'd still be deep, deep in the hole: A fragmented Iraq ruled by competing local paramilitaries, Kurdistan as a staging ground for separatist raids into Turkey, Basra as the new westernmost province of hegemonic Iran, a Sadrist mini-state in Baghdad, and several new handbooks' worth of guerrilla tactics developed in the open-source laboratory the U.S. presence in Iraq has provided for al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups over the last four years.

These are the facts which the Democratic candidates must be prepared to bring to the American people in the general election. Understanding the net disaster that the Iraq war has been for the U.S. is essential for changing course in the region, and for helping to avoid the people who steered us here.

--Matthew Duss

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