U.S. has lost in Iraq

Joshua Holland: Harry Reid says what should be obvious to all by now ...
That Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is willing to admit that the United States has lost in Iraq -- a position he'll reiterate in a speech today -- is a big deal. Let the Republicans hammer him over it -- he has both reality and the opinion of a majority of Americans on his side.

Republican senator Chuck Hagel likens Iraq to Vietnam in today's Washington Post. He writes: "We are still risking the lives of our troops without giving them a realistic policy worthy of their sacrifices. To me, as a Vietnam veteran, that feels terribly familiar."

That point can't be over-emphasized: nothing hurts the morale of "the troops" more than a fuzzy and indefinite mission.

And it couldn't get much fuzzier or less definite than the mission in Iraq. In fact, McClatchy reports that the U.S. military no longer considers its primary mission to be training Iraqi forces to stand up so ours can stand down …
Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.
Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.
No change has been announced, and a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Gary Keck, said training Iraqis remains important. "We are just adding another leg to our mission," Keck said, referring to the greater U.S. role in establishing security that new troops arriving in Iraq will undertake.
But evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy. Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the policy shift publicly.
That, folks, was the latest in a series of Central Rationales For Remaining In Iraq falling apart, unannounced and barely acknowledged by the commercial press.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.
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