After Brookings analysts Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack published a report in the New York Times yesterday arguing that “we are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms,” National Review convened a symposium of pro-war cheerleaders to praise the op-ed.
Of the eight war backers in the symposium, the most distinguished contributor is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who — like the Brookings analysts — has previously exploited Baghdad trips to portray a rosy vision of Iraq. McCain used the op-ed to bash war critics:
Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack have uncovered a truth that seems to escape congressional Democrats: General Petraeus’s new strategy has shown remarkable progress. [...]
I cannot guarantee success. But I do guarantee that, should Congress fail to sustain the effort, and should it pay no heed to the lessons drawn by Mr. Pollack and Mr. O’Hanlon, then America will face a historic and terrible defeat. Such a defeat, with its enormous human and strategic costs, will unfold unless we do all in our power to prevent it. I, for one, will continue to do just that.
In his interview with Larry King, Vice President Cheney said “don’t take it from me” that the escalation is working, but rather he cited O’Hanlon and Pollack, individuals whom he called “strong critics of the war”:
Look at the piece that appeared yesterday in The New York Times — not exactly a friendly publication — but a piece by Mr. O’Hanlon and Mr. Pollack on the situation in Iraq. They’re just back from visiting over there. They both have been strong critics of the war, both worked in the prior administration; but now saying that they think there’s a possibility, indeed, that we could be successful.
The enthusiastic parroting of the Times’ op-ed by pro-war dead-enders such as McCain and Cheney is a quintessential example of how left-of-center experts like O’Hanlon and Pollack provide political cover for the president’s failing Iraq policy. The supposedly reasonable assessments of these two analysts have been enabling the right-wing since before the invasion of Iraq.