President Bush embraced a major tactical shift on Wednesday evening in the war in Iraq when he declared that the only way to quell sectarian violence there was to send more than 20,000 additional American troops into combat.Then why has he been so hell-bent on doing exactly the wrong thing, all the time? If this is The Most Important War Ever, why no draft? Why a call to malls instead of a call to arms? Why no strategy beyond throwing troops at Iraq and telling the Iraqis to play nice? Why no consultations with non-insane Middle East or Iraq experts before, during, or after the invasion? Why, if I didn't know better, I might think that this is just empty rhetoric to make withdrawal sound like a bad thing.
Yet in defying mounting pressure to begin troop withdrawals, the president reiterated his argument that the consequences of failure in Iraq were so high that the United States could not afford to lose.
In a speech to the nation, Mr. Bush conceded for the first time that there had not been enough American or Iraqi troops in Baghdad to halt the capital’s descent over the past year into chaos. [And they only just noticed this now?] In documents released just before the speech, the White House acknowledged that his previous strategy was based on fundamentally flawed assumptions about the power of the shaky Iraqi government. [The success of his new plan depends on this exact same government, mind you.]This... is a joke, right? The American "experiment" (damn, what a callous-yet-appropriate word choice that is) was doomed to failure from the beginning, it's destabilizing the Middle East, and in case you hadn't noticed, terrorists already have a "launching pad" - it's called Afghanistan, which we have utterly failed to secure, and are now pulling troops out of to feed the surge. As for emboldening Iran, I'm sure they're real intimidated by our brilliant move of committing almost our entire active-duty military to not-quite-prop-up two failed states.
Mr. Bush gave no indication that the troop increase would be short-lived, describing his new strategy as an effort to “change America’s course in Iraq,” and he said that “we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties” in the course of more intensive round-the-clock patrols in some of Baghdad’s most dangerous neighborhoods. [Oh good, more casualties - I'm loving the new plan already.]
But Mr. Bush rekindled his argument that a withdrawal would doom to failure the American experiment in Iraq, touch off chaos throughout the Middle East, provide a launching pad for attacks in the United States, and embolden Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
He also offered his most direct acknowledgment of error in an American-led war that has lasted nearly four years and claimed more than 3,000 American lives. “Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility lies with me,” he said.That's it? That's the great big I'm-a-grownup mea culpa? That is not, "I've made some terrible mistakes and I am deeply sorry for all those Americans and Iraqis who suffered and died for my arrogance and blindness." More like, "Yeah, some of the people working for me might have screwed up a few times, so I guess that kinda sorta makes it my fault, maybe."
For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq,” Mr. Bush said in repeating an argument that he has used for nearly four years — that a retreat from the country before a decisive victory is won would provide terrorists a place in which to conduct new attacks on the United States and American targets.Argh. This just hurts my brain. Is there anyone outside the right-wing true believers who actually believes this? Even if there were any truth to it, Bush's invasion is what created the possibility. It's still a silly idea, especially when you consider that Iraq is going to be a Shi'ite theocracy, and the terrorist organization most likely to strike the U.S. is Sunni. It makes more sense for al-Qaeda to base itself in Afghanistan, which is majority Sunni, where we're barely paying attention, and where the government is all but nonexistent outside Kabul.
As part of a campaign to market the new strategy, Mr. Bush’s aides insisted that the plan was largely created by the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. [BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!]I just love this paragraph - it simultaneously reveals the phoniness of Iraqi sovereignty, as well as the depth of the strategic and policy analysis that went into this latest Plan For Glorious Victory.
Yet Mr. Bush sounded less than certain of his support for the prime minister, who many in the White House and the military fear may be intending to extend Shiite power over the Sunnis, or could prove incapable of making good on his promises. “If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people,” Mr. Bush declared.
He put it far more bluntly when leaders of Congress visited the White House earlier on Wednesday. “I said to Maliki this has to work or you’re out,” the president told the Congressional leaders, according to two officials who were in the room. Pressed on why he thought this strategy would succeed where previous efforts had failed, Mr. Bush shot back: “Because it has to.”
Until the summer, Mr. Bush had used the phrase “stay the course” to describe his approach in Iraq, and his decision to describe his new strategy as an effort to “change America’s course” appeared intended to distance himself from that old approach. An earlier plan unveiled in November 2005 had been titled “Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” but Mr. Bush used the word “victory” sparingly on Wednesday night, and then only to diminish expectations.So it won't actually lead to success? It'll what, slow down the pace of failure? Hell, I wouldn't even bet on that.
“The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success,” he said. “I believe that it will,” saying that if it is successful it would result in a “functioning democracy” that “fights terrorists instead of harboring them.”
In some of his sharpest words of warning to Iran, Mr. Bush accused the Iranian government of “providing material support for attacks on American troops” and vowed to “seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies.”Well, it's good to see that Bush has learned his lesson about starting wars you can't win...
He left deliberately vague the question of whether those operations would be limited to Iraq or conducted elsewhere, and said he had ordered the previously reported deployment of a new aircraft carrier strike group to the region, where it is in easy reach of Iranian territory.
His aides hinted that the administration had already come up with a “Plan B” in case the latest strategy failed, with one saying “there are other ways to achieve our objective.” But he would not describe that strategy, or say if it involved withdrawal, containment or the breakup of the country into sectarian entities.Wait - I thought "Plan A" (hahahaha) was guaranteed to work "because it has to"? My guess on "Plan B": Nuclear carpet-bombing = Reset button.
Yeah, I have a real warm fuzzy feeling about Stay The Course Plus: Now With More Casualties! This is going to work out great... for Supreme Ayatollah al-Sadr.