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Posted by on Jan 13, 2007 in At TMV | 13 comments

Cut and blame?

A new poll shows that “70 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops” to Iraq. That is, they oppose the surge, the escalation, Bush’s “new” strategy.

Bush hasn’t just lost the Iraq War. He’s lost the American people.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the most partisan of a hyper-partisan caucus of Republicans, has announced that he will filibuster any legislative attempt by Democrats to block the surge.

And he may have Joe Lieberman’s support.

Like Bush, McConnell thinks it’s important “to stay on offence and to finish the job”. But what does that even mean? Being on offence hasn’t worked, and 21,500 more troops won’t make much of a difference, if any. And the “job”? Is that establishing a peaceful, free, and democratic Iraq? Hardly. Is it having the Iraqis stand up on their own? Maybe, but how will the Iraqis conduct themselves once the U.S. leaves, once those additional U.S. troops are no longer embedded among them? Is it pacifying Baghdad? Maybe, but is that even possible? The sectarianism is there to stay. Any pacification would only be short-term.

The partisans are as misguided as their great leader.
But at least they’re not all crazy in that august Madisonian body:

President Bush’s decision to deploy 21,500 additional troops to Iraq drew fierce opposition Thursday from congressional Democrats and some Republicans — among them Sen. Chuck Hagel, who called it “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”

I’ll take Hagel over Lieberman any day. Do you think the two parties could work out a trade?

I argued both during and after the speech that Bush’s plan amounts to little more than hedging his bets. There will be a focused troop increase, but there are also those “benchmarks” that the Iraqis must meet. If they don’t — when they don’t — the U.S. will pull back. In other words, this temporary surge is a cover for likely, if not inevitable, withdrawal. But Bush won’t call it defeat. He’ll blame the Iraqis — and the Democrats, of course — for failing to do what they needed to do.

Bush launched a reckless war that was grossly mismanaged. The Iraqis are not blameless, to be sure. The Sunni insurgents and the Shiite militias are ripping the country apart. But it’s simply wrong of Bush, if not downright repugnant, to put the majority of Iraqis in this position. Is it their fault that Bush botched the war and occupation? Is it their fault that so much has gone wrong? They are in no position to stand up on their own, neither the government nor the army nor the police. There may be a number of different reasons for that, including the culture of irresponsibility fostered under Saddam, but Bush and the architects of the war deserve much of the blame for the fact that Iraqis are in this position of incapacity.

And yet failure will be their fault, not Bush’s. So much for Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule. The U.S. broke it, but the Iraqis will be left to fix it on their own.

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