Urgency in Iraq

Despite the recent (but too-little-to-late) publication of the Iraq Study Group’s report, President George W. Bush has said that he will wait until after the new year to announce any possible change of policy in Iraq. This is assumed to be for the benefit of incoming Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, so he can get his feet wet over the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the President does not have two weeks.

Every day, there are several things happening that make every day precious in trying to “win victory” in Iraq.

1) Iraqis are dying. Every day, innocent men, women, and children die in Sunni bomb blasts and Shiite executions and attacks. Each person who dies has friends and relatives living in Iraq who cannot help but become just a little more hardened against the other side. And every day, many cross the tipping point into a willingness to commit violence. Worse yet, every day many are losing hope.
2) Americans are dying. And because of this, every day Americans are losing hope in victory/success/whatever in Iraq and losing faith in the administration, its people and its policies. Not that this means anything to a lame duck President who has already sacrificed his party’s Congressional majority for the sake of his legacy (i.e., “success” in Iraq). However, I hope there is a tipping point at which Bush realizes that he is a public servant and that the will of the people, even if it’s wrong in his opinion, is his mandate.
3) Iraqis are leaving their country. According to the best estimates, more than 6.5% of the pre-war population of Iraq has left. Approximately 75% of those who have left have gone to neighboring countries like Jordan and Syria. They are refugees, but not in the sense that we imagine refugees. These are the most intelligent people in (or should I say “from”) Iraq. They are the best and the brightest: professors, doctors, attorneys, engineers, etc., leaving both because they have the resources to do so, and they are being targeted by militias and terrorists.
4) The insurgents and terrorists are succeeding. The country is in a civil war; people argue this point by saying that the government still stands and the police and military are still obeying orders. The point they don’t bother to bring up is the fact that the government only stands because it’s inside the American-fortified Green Zone. A government’s legitimacy depends on the respect it gets internally and externally. Internally, I doubt many Iraqis feel the government is giving them what they need—not security, not order, not opportunity, not electricity. Externally, not even the presence of the U.S. military deters those who would destabilize the country. No one who wants to is afraid to enter Iraq and begin fighting against the government. Moreover, the police and military are hardly part of the solution; many of them are the same militiamen who participate in sectarian intimidation, kidnapping, torture, retaliatory attacks, and executions.

If there is still a chance of success in Iraq (and that’s a big IF), it is slipping further away each day. The President is building his legacy of failure day by day as his arrogance keeps him blinded to good counsel. As cited in U.S. News & World Report, a recollection of a member of the Iraq Study Group paraphrased Bush as saying: You have to speak to the American people with a simple message here. They understand what victory is, and if you come off it, they’ll think you’re giving up.

Evidently he’s also the decider about how much of the truth we can handle and how much spin we need to keep us in his camp. Mr. President, we also understand what victory is not; it’s not what we are currently seeing in Iraq. And the possibility of it is running fast the other way.

8 Comments

Reluctant says:

I don’t understand what you want him to do. You yourself said the only solution to Iraq is an increase in troop levels. He’s planning on doing that. But it’s not like he can just start throwing troops in Iraq.

He’s said that he won’t do that. He will make sure they are strategically placed when they can be more advantageous. He’s waiting for the Pentagon to provide plans and details about the increase.

You have continually disproved your title on this blog in your consistent attacks on President Bush. Regardless of what he does, even when it’s something you previously said was the right move, you criticize and demean.

I am officially stripping you of your centrist title and request you choose a different domain name 😉

Centrist says:

There’s no longer much Bush CAN do (to be successful in Iraq) except increase troop levels, but he should have done that 6-12 months ago. Doing so now will only fuel the hatred of the protracted “occupation” and give more radicals reason to join the melee. The longer he waits, the stronger the U.S. military will have to react to put down the insurgency, and therefore the worse the reaction will be to U.S. presence, thereby feeding an even stronger resentment of the occupation. It’s a viscious circle. I’m not saying it can’t be done (and I stick to my assertion that it’s the only way to “win”); I’m just saying the longer he waits, the worse it gets.

The parallels to Katrina are obvious: Mike Brown and Don Rumsfeld were both “doin’ a heckuva job” until it became expedient to dump them, and do it fast. But in both cases, the disaster was already out of control. Brownie didn’t know what he was doing, and Rummy was too wrapped up in proving that his idea of a smaller military could really work to admit that Iraq was headed in the wrong direction.

Bush is flat-out incompetent, and he has tended to surround himself with incompetent (or ideologically-driven) people. You may like him conceptually, but no one can defend his decisions. If I have to surrender my title as a centrist because of it (because we all know Bush owns the center), then so be it. How about the Commie?

Juan Williams gets asked all the time by right-wingers how he can stand working at NPR and by left-wingers how he can stand working at Fox. I know what he means, Vern.

Mike W. says:

Centrist,

You’re not even close to being a commie. You aren’t a centrist. You sound more like a free-thinking, reformist idealist to me. We should just join our blogs: you be the current events political guy; I’ll be the historical, philosophical guy. Together we’ll slowly encourage people to think for themselves and to read and study history and human nature and recognize that ideology is always wrong, nationalism often wrong, and freedom always right.

Reluctant says:

You really think the hatred has increased in the last 6-12 months? The violence has increased, but most of that increase is between the ethnic groups with Iraq… not really an insurgency. The hatred has not changed. Those who hate America and what it stands for will always hate America, no mater how long Bush waits to deploy more troops.

For you, President Bush can’t do anything right. No matter what he does, he’s “flat-out incompetent.” And you continually criticize without bringing solutions to the table. After Mike requested your suggested solution for the war, you finally said that you would increase troop levels. Now that Bush is doing that, it’s “too late.”

I see a lot of Bush-hating and very little actual progressive thinking (If that is what you are claiming to be).

Reluctant says:

Mike, you two can easily combine your blogs. Just create an account on your blog for Dave and you can both post to the same blog and domain. We can then set Dave’s domain to simply redirect to yours.

Centrist says:

Danno,

Yes, I think the hatred toward the U.S. has increased over the last 6-12 months. I don’t think it’s static, and I don’t think it’s moving in a positive direction, so, yes, I think it has gotten worse. The only thing that can stem the violence (not the hatred) is a heavy-handed military. This will only come in the form of either a U.S.-led crackdown or a local strongman, e.g., al-Sadr’s Mahdi militia.

The U.N. has put together a report stating that almost 100 people die violently (executions, mortars, bombings, etc.) each DAY in Iraq.

If I, a political hack with limited information, can come to my conclusion now, doesn’t it stand to reason that the mighty U.S. government with its thousands of knowlegeable analysts, combined millenia of experience, seas of information, cutting edge technologies, etc. could have come to at least as good if not a better solution at least 12 months ago?

I don’t think President Bush can do no right; he could, he just chooses not to. It’s his responsibility as Commander-in-Chief to make sure his Secretary of Defense is prosecuting the war correctly. Lincoln took trips to the Dept of War several times a week to make sure he had the best possible information. He went through a dozen generals until he found one who did what he wanted. The war to Lincoln wasn’t a philophical, experimental exercise. He was working every day to end it.

Contrast that with http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3197499780545967733&q=%22now+watch+this+drive%22 and tell me why one succeeded while the other is failing.

I would love to give Bush props for something he does right, but I’m having a hard time finding anything. I think he’s on the right track regarding immigration reform–how’s that? Can you think if anything else? Please list what he has done to benefit the country (as a whole, not just the wealthiest 1%).

Reluctant says:

So give me some evidence that the hatred for the US has increased. And give me reasons. I don’t think it has. I think the violence has increased. But I don’t think the hatred has.

Ok…. so you have a video of President Bush playing golf and saying that we should all fight terrorism. Do you expect him to never relax? Do you expect him to be at the Pentagon every day? I’m sure he he briefed on a daily basis by Pentagon officials (most likely the SecDef).

Do you realize that you have included a video from “Fahrenheit 9/11”? You’re helping Michael Moore? He is one of if not THE face of the extreme liberal left. Of course he is going to find video that furthers his agenda and in doing so, casts Bush in a bad light. But in my opinion, the video isn’t bad. Bush has to relax.

Do you golf? Shouldn’t you be at home with your family, teaching them and encouraging them and helping them to fight the evil in this world? Oh wait… you take a few hours off to relax and have an enjoyable time. Can’t the President of the United States do the same thing? Some would say that your job is more important than his.

Centrist says:

I just got off the phone after talking to 5,468 Iraqis; 73.8% (+-2%) of them said they felt more hatred toward the U.S. Gimme a break! I’ll produce evidence that there is more hatred after you produce evidence that there is less. The closest I found to evidence is http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2006/05/03/fueling-animosity.

Another thing about Lincoln; he liked to review the Union troops from a balcony as they passed through D.C. to and from battles. The troops loved him. One afternoon as troops passed for review, there was a cold rain falling. Someone asked the rain-soaked President if he didn’t want to come in out of the rain. He said, “I suppose if they can stand it, I can too” (if I didn’t get the quote exact, it’s a good paraphrase). He was the only sitting President to come under enemy fire.

Michael Moore didn’t alter the tape or put words into Bush’s mouth. I think Michael Moore’s an agenda-chasing idiot, but what Bush said was what Bush said. I didn’t know that I was “helping” Michael Moore by using a clip from his movie–sorry ’bout that. Don’t be ridiculous.

Do the troops in Iraq get to go golfing or mountain biking or sit at home teaching their families (I suppose they do get to clear a lot of brush)? I’m not saying Bush shouldn’t get time to relax, I’m just saying that he doesn’t seem to have a sense of urgency about the war.

Any President’s head would explode if he didn’t relax, or he’d end his term(s) with PTSD–like 1/3 of the soldiers Bush sent to Iraq chasing phantom WMD.

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