Petraeus for President

Let’s make it official. The purported president of the United States, who like John McCain has trouble getting his Sunnis and Shiites exactly right, the former before we began this war, the latter while he would continue it indefinitely, have gotten America into a war without end.

Our matinee idol general of the day, whatever his virtues and vices, is now the commander in chief of the war without end, which the new Congress, elected to end it, continues.

We now have a president who dresses up like a soldier, in costume, and a general who now assumes the role of president, and a Congress that now looks like the character in the movie “Zelig,” popping up as a bit player during great events.

Here are a few truths that have not been told in the hours of today's hearing that I was capable of watching, before I could take no more.

1. The strategy of Bush and Petraeus is simple: Stall the game out to drop on the desk of the next president, and force the next president to either continue the war indefinitely or accept the blame of their failures.

2. We will either keep paying the 60,000 Iraqis who formerly killed Americans and now take our money on long-term retainers, or, if our money stops flowing to them, they will resume killing either our people or other Iraqis. In a war without end, we are paying hush money without end.

3. The big winner, as always, as was inevitable from the beginning of this misbegotten war without end, is Iran. This is a matter of history, geography and religion. It was inevitable before Lieberman and neocons started hungering for this war in the 1990s. It was inevitable when it began. It is inevitable today. It will be inevitable in perpetuity because Iran is Shiite and adjacent to Iraq, and we are not.

4. The only rational outcome would include a diplomatic initiative that is regional and includes Iran with a political initiative that is credible and pressures Iraqis, yet President Bush will not do this, and Gen. Petraeus lacks the moral stature of Adm. Fallon, and goes along.

5. "Our man in Iraq," the hapless Maliki, a good friend of Iran, and a not-so-good friend of ours, ignores our advice, attacks in Basra, journeys to the battle scene like Napoleon, and leaves with his tail between his legs when a thousand Petraeus-trained Iraqi "troops" run for the hills.

The question is not whether Gen. Petraeus should run for president. The problem is, in this war without end, he already is, and the sad truth is, he is the Congress, too.