The New Plan
Ok, so we now have Bush's new plan for Iraq with the wonderful escalation, oh excuse me, surge of 20,000 troops. Many folks have blogged and commented on it's many flaws and problems, military, economic, social and political. But one thing I want to put down is the extent to which, even if you take his arguments at face value, the President still comes across as a fool. Let me explain.
For example, Bush describes the sequence of events that got us to this stage in the following words:
When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together — and that as we trained Iraqi security forces, we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.
But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq — particularly in Baghdad — overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. al-Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause. And they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra — in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.
Now the Miami Herald has an excellent article describing the degree to which Bush, and his administration, are misleading the public about this sequence of events. In short Shia death squads were active some 15 months before the bombing of the Golden Mosque in February of 2006. But even if we accept Bush at his word (absurd I know, but bear with me) his description of events does the President no credit. The Golden Mosque, as I said, was struck in February of 2006. Prior to that, according to the administration, things were going well and Iraq was well on course for becoming a peaceful democracy. However, in the time since the Mosque bombing sectarian violence has been spinning out of control, bringing us to this stage where radical change is needed in our policy and most analysts would say that we are near to loosing this war.
Now how astute can the Commander-in-Chief of our military be if it takes him 11 months to notice that the blissful peace of Iraq's near transformation to a peaceful Democracy has spun out into a hell-hole of sectarian violence. And remember, this is his version of events to put his performance in the best light. A more accurate description of what happens is even less flattering to the President.
Additionally, Bush was insisting, right up to the election in November, that we were winning and had sufficient forces in theater to meet our needs. Only since November, and really December with the issuing of the ISG's report, has he discovered that the bombing of the Mosque nearly a year ago requires increasing troop levels. An increase with virtually no support anywhere in the nation and an increase of a very small proportion of the forces currently available. That is the Bush team's best argument in their favor.