Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Friday, December 15, 2006

  Bush unveils new strategy for Iraq ahead of Christmas

The White House's strategy for Iraq, which we thought would be delayed endlessly by Bush and his advisors, has already been unveiled—earlier than anticipated. And it's a complete non-starter.

I read the plan not so much with disappointment as with indignation. Bush's prolonged refusal to face up to reality; his evasion of responsibility for failures; the incoherence of previous attempts to identify a credible strategy; playing politics for months on end with the lives of our troops, as the situation on the ground deteriorated. These were all merely a prelude to this stupendously foolish 35 page document (PDF) released by the White House.

The immediate reaction in DC was to reject the plan outright as more of the same:

Several leading congressional Democrats dismissed...the strategy document as warmed-over versions of Bush's rhetoric on Iraq.

"After nearly 1,000 days of war in Iraq, our troops, their families and the American people deserve more than just a Bush-Cheney public relations campaign," said Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). "They deserve a clear strategy with military, economic and political measures to be met in order to successfully complete our mission."

The centerpiece of the plan, as described by Bush in an untelevised speech, was this:

Bush described what he called a record of growing proficiency by Iraqi military and police forces, which he said will allow U.S. troops to reduce their role in day-to-day combat operations. His voice choked with emotion at times, he said an immediate withdrawal or a precise schedule for doing so would vindicate terrorists....

[The plan] says that the administration is working toward winning the war on three fronts: by training Iraqi security forces, by helping the nation establish a democracy, and by targeting economic development and rebuilding efforts in areas of the country cleared of insurgents.

The speech and release of the strategy document come as Bush's approval ratings have dropped to new lows...

Think Progress has posted an analysis of the document that sums up its obvious flaws:

The problem is, it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq; it’s a public relations document. The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability. It dismisses serious problems such as the dramatic increase in bombings as "metrics that the terrorists and insurgents want the world to use." Americans understand it’s time for a new course in Iraq. Unfortunately, this document is little more than an extended justification for a President "determined to stay his course."...

"We will not put a date certain on when each stage of success will be reached," the document states in bold and italicized print, "because the timing of success depends upon meeting certain conditions, not arbitrary timetables." The only time frames proposed for achieving U.S. objectives are virtually meaningless phrases: “short term,” “medium term,” and “longer term.” The goals for these time frames are equally ambiguous; the so-called “short term” goals, for instance, are listed as “making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.”...

Virtually nothing is said about the well-being of our military, unquestionably a vital element in any strategy for success....considering the No. 1 “Strategic Pillar” to “Defeat the Terrorists and Neutralize the Insurgency,” it is simply not true to claim that the number of insurgent bombings (now at an all-time high) is irrelevant as a measure of progress....

[The document] is less of a strategy and more of a pat on the back.

The document is called "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq", and as you will have noticed by my description of the plan, it was released well in advance of Christmas 2005.

It's a measure of how little the Bush administration's planning has advanced during the last year, that in essential ways the "new way forward" that Bush is preparing to unveil in the coming weeks (when he finally gets around to thinking seriously about the anarchy in Iraq), will most likely resemble the "new" strategy he unveiled more than a year ago. Future historians will have a tough time distinguishing one from the other.

The situation today is much more dire than a year ago, but what is more to the point, it was dire last year as well. What was a failed strategy already then, remains a failed strategy. After training police and soldiers in Iraq for nearly three years, while the mayhem grew, it was perverse in 2005 to hope that more training would produce better results. A year later, the same can be said.

It is what a government behaves like, when it decides to "up the ante" in a losing war, when it opts for "one last big push". It is how leaders behave when paralyzed by their own failures.

The world has seen this same pattern played out over and over again. "The last big push." How many of those were there in the First World War? Verdun was the last big push. The Somme was the last big push. As was Paschendale, and... The last big push is almost always a recipe for failure, and it's almost always followed by yet another last big push.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home