The two U.S. soldiers missing since an attack on a checkpoint last week were found dead near a power plant in Yusifiyah, south of Baghdad, according to an Iraqi defense official.
General Abdul Aziz Muhammed, head of operations at Iraqi Ministry of Defense said in a news conference in Baghdad this afternoon that the soldiers had been "barbarically" killed and that there were traces of torture on their bodies.
This is the reality of Iraq right now, not Bush sneaking into Iraq and prancing around as if he owns the place. America gets it, which is why Bush didn't get a bump in the polls for his surprise-visit stunt -- we've seen this kind of thing before and we know the bloodshed never ends in Iraq.
And yet I see no evidence that Americans are actually cheering on the notion of withdrawal, even if they're coming around to it. I'm waiting for a sign that America is truly capable of shutting down its emotional investment in the fighting of this war -- that a large majority of citizens are capable of saying, "Our leaders, those bastards, sent our kids off to die in that hellhole, and for nothing." Instead, there's still a large chunk of the populace that thinks of this as our war, and that reacts to every soldier's death primarily with outrage at the killers, and only then, if at all, with exasperation at the American leaders who sent the soldiers into the killers' paths.
The tradeoff is still "Let's keep fighting" versus "Let's admit we made a mistake" -- and while the "mistake" faction is growing, there's no pride in it, except for those of us who are angrily anti-war. So Bush's hapless stutting is still capable of holding voters, which is why Republicans aren't doomed in '06. (I don't think the problem is that Democrats haven't truly joined together in opposition to the war, because America thinks the Democratic Party is full of war opponents anyway.)
I've always thought Bush and Rove -- Rove, certainly -- could see this from the beginning. I think their plan was to keep fighting optional wars if Iraq really did turn into a cakewalk, and fight them in part to keep the majority of the country wary of Democrats, a party that could be characterized as full of war skeptics even if only a few Democrats expressed skepticism. I think the White House wanted to create a generational fault line, whith Republicans on the side of fighting and pride and vengeance and Democrats painted as the other side. I'm afraid it's still working, if barely. Bush may never again be a popular president, but Americans either have to stick with his party's approach or embrace an alternative that's dispiriting -- which means he may still have us where he wants us.