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Saturday, July 19

Sapping Operation

A long time ago, there was a term in warfare called a sapping operation, named for the type of tunnel that was dug. The tunnel was perpendicular to the enemy's lines or fortifications, and was supposed to get underneath said lines/fortifications. Once you were underneath, your combat engineers (called sappers - and still are in the British Royal Army, by the way) would set explosive charges in order to destroy the enemy defenses.

Examples of this are rather numerous, but the two best examples are the mines set off under the German trenches at the Battle of the Somme (one didn't go off, but the others were felt as far away as London) and the one set off by the Union Army against the Confederate works at Petersburg.

Another example of a sapping operation is what we saw in the German news magazine Der Spiegel today.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Berlin for talks with Federal Chancellor Merkel and was asked for his views on the competing plans for the eventual removal of US troops from his country. Being careful not to endorse either candidate ("Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business") he said that he favored Senator Obama's sixteen-month timetable for a US withdrawal from Iraq. He did allow for some modification of that timetable, based presumably on real-world conditions and not some nebulous fantasy.

That was the first mine under the Bush Administration's "Stay the Course, Dammit!" policy, which also served to put a hole in Senator McCain's own open-ended commitment stance.

The second was what the White House did with the Reuters report of the interview by Der Spiegel. Some complete nimrod sent it out, not to the internal mailing list but to the external list - the one that goes to all the news media outlets.

Snap! As they say.

That sound you hear, reminiscent of cracking icebergs and roofs about to cave in, is the Bush Administration's policy on Iraq. That policy has, according to some, has actually been edging closer toward Obama's position in recent days, what with the semantically awkward but brilliantly obfuscatory "general time horizon" (couldn't they find a better way to say "timetable?") and the pressing need to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Where does this leave Senator McCain's foreign policy stance?

According to one GOP strategist, "We're fucked."

Res ipsa loquitur.

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