September 6, 2006

Bush Stays Course While Baghdad Burns

One thing good friends are for is for making you examine your opinion more closely and articulate it. In response to Chuck, and to try to explain that I’m not simply suggesting that we suddenly withdraw all troops from Iraq, I explained what is eating me about Bush’s Iraq policy and his insistence that we continue to pour money and lives into the Iraq money pit backing a non-plan that the administration can’t seem to let go.

I’ve elevated (and edited) my comment up here to its own blog post.

Iraq is currently a free-for-all, with Sunni fighting Shia, Shia fighting Sunni and everybody fighting us. It’s not at all clear what we’re supposed to be doing there. It’s not at all clear that we can fight the many organizations that are popping up to oppose us while protecting ourselves and the Iraqi citizens. I disagree that an actual date exists (like 2025, as far away as it is) where we finally declare victory using Bush’s “plan.” It’s not at all clear that time is what we need, and therefore not clear that buying that time with money and lives is any sort of bargain.

That doesn’t mean I’m arguing for sudden withdrawal. But I am arguing for some sort of leadership.

It seems to me like what happened is that we’ve been suckered into handing Iran all the power in the region. The first Gulf War left Iraq the way it was for a reason, and I think that reason was (in part) Iran.

If we were to withdraw now, the Shiites of Iran would basically take Iraq and be breathing down the neck of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. A disaster.

Either we need to suddenly have the military power to subdue and occupy Iran, too, or we need to find some political solution that Iran will agree to. The expense of fighting Iran, I fear, would make Iraq seem like the cakewalk that the hawks originally promised.

Bush’s way is to keep spending money and lives holding the line with no improvement while he fritters away his remaining years in office, leaving the problem for the next administration. I want Bush to take responsibility for what he’s done and start working on a solution now. Get help from the Sunnis. Swallow some pride. Do some damn thing other than bleed more money and lives in what is the stupidest-ass war I’ve ever heard of.

Bush has made fools of all of us. And when his term is over, he will cut and run as he has with other messes he has made. And we are left holding the bag.

Posted by James at September 6, 2006 12:11 PM
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Assuming nothing was changing about the occupation I'd be inclined to agree with you about "Bush's plan". But Bush and his cronies had no plan for dealing with an insurgency, indeed they had no postwar plan at all, and that isn't hyperbole or speculation.

I believe the military leaders who understand how to handle insurgencies are finally beginning to be listened to, and though things are going to be bad in Iraq for a long time, there's a chance the military can turn it around there. This all happens at a lower level where Bush's oversight (or interest) doesn't penetrate. "Stay the course" may be what he says, and it may be all he knows, but it doesn't necessarily mean "business as usual".

Invading Iraq strengthened Iran, no doubt about that. Something else our illustrious leaders clearly didn't think through. AFA forming agreements with Iran, what agreement could we trust the Iranian government to uphold?

Posted by: Chuck S. at September 6, 2006 5:39 PM

I wish I could have faith that Bush's influence was that shallow. And AFA trusting Iran goes, we can't just trust Iran. Diplomacy isn't just about asking and trusting. I wish I could tell you an easy diplomatic solution, but obviously I can't.

What I can tell you is that we can't expect any smart solution from an administration that can't even admit its mistakes. When Tony Snow was confronted with the suggestion that we failed to recognize the possibility of insurgency in Iraq and that once it was apparent we failed to adjust to it, he called that "the Democratic point of view."

When the head is that bad, I don't think the body underneath is going to get very far making change work.

I don't see evidence that anyone who knows how to fix this is being listned to. I certainly don't see any outward evidence. I should think that if they're coming up with a way to make Iraq work, they wouldn't be calling it "staying the course." On the contrary, my sources are telling me that this occupation isn't going anywhere.

We're going to have to agree to disagree.

Posted by: James at September 6, 2006 6:20 PM

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