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Bush's Absurd New Rationale for Keeping Troops in Iraq

The New York Times has some excerpts from a speech that Bush plans to give tomorrow at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention:

Bush: "There are many differences between the wars we fought in the Far East and the war on terror we are fighting today. But one important similarity is that at their core, they are all ideological struggles.

But what exactly does the war on terror have to do with Iraq? In the war on terror we are, in fact, fighting an enemy with a committed ideology. In particular, a brand of militant jihadism based on the fundamentalist creed of the Sunni Wahabbi sect of Islam and having its roots in Saudi Arabia.

In Iraq, we are fighting some of these same extremists, but we are also fighting a much larger array of different ideologies: ex-Baathists who follow a socialist ideology, Iraqi nationalists, Shiite fundamentalists (who are incidentally committed to the destruction of the jihadists who we are fighting in the war on terror), criminal elements who have no ideology at all, and a myriad of other insurgent and militant groups who cover the entire spectrum of ideologies.

Once again, Bush will attempt to confuse the two conflicts and paint them as one. Nice try, but the American people won't fall for it because we understand what's really going on in Iraq.

Bush: Our troops are seeing this progress on the ground. And as they take the initiative from the enemy, they have a question: Will their elected leaders in Washington pull the rug out from under them just as they are gaining momentum and changing the dynamic on the ground in Iraq?"

This marketing message for continuing the war is in stark contrast to what he was saying just a few months ago:

Bush: "And so we will help this Iraqi government succeed. And the first step for success is to do something about the sectarian violence in Baghdad so they can have breathing space in order to do the political work necessary to assure that different factions in Baghdad, factions that are recovering from years of tyranny, that there's a hopeful future for them and their families. I would call that political breathing space. And by providing this political breathing space -- in other words, giving the Maliki government a chance to reconcile and do the work necessary to achieve reconciliation -- it will hasten the day in which we can change our force posture in Iraq."

So before, the original purpose of the surge was to provide breathing space so that the Maliki government could move forward on political reconciliation of Iraq's warring factions. Now, of course, given that this hasn't taken place, Bush is forced to invent an entirely new rationale for keeping our troops in Iraq indefinitely against the determined will of the American and Iraqi people.

Now Bush is telling us that the surge is "changing the dynamic" on the ground and, for that reason alone, we should continue it even though the Iraqi politicians have made no progress at all in addressing the underlying causes of the Sunni insurgency (to say nothing of settling the expanding conflict between the Shiite militias themselves). Bush has apparently abandoned the idea that political reconciliation in Iraq is necessary at all anymore. He seems to believe that we should stay forever regardless of how badly the situation deteriorates between the Sunnis and the Shiites. The only thing that is important now is that we are "changing the dynamic" on the ground.

But, of course, the American people know that we've really been doing is paying off the Sunni insurgents with weapons and cash in exchange for their promise not to attack us. We also know that our military is organizing the insurgents into militias that will one day stand toe-to-toe with the Shiite militias that are already well-organized and control most of Iraq. It should be plainly obvious even to the dullest neoconservative minds, that the Iraqis themselves are simply sharpening their knives and preparing for the day when they will have their final showdown.

Consequently, it will be increasingly difficult for Bush to sell his new rationale for continuing our presence in Iraq which is just the last in a long line of rationales that have been discarded in getting us to this point. The bottom line that the American people know to be true is that the situation right now is really not much different than the situation at the end of 2003. Only now, thousands more of our troops have died and the Iraqis are no nearer to reconciling their differences.

Time has run out for George Bush on Iraq. He's not going to succeed in his effort to play out the clock on the war and dump the whole disaster on the next President. We need a change of course now. We have waited far too long already. The President's strategy is a failure and it's time to face up to it instead of continuing to deny the reality of the situation. Getting another thousand of our troops killed with another year of occupation isn't going to get the Iraqis to solve their differences. It's up to them now. Bring our troops home now, Mr. President!


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Comments (2)

Steve Crickmore:

Larkin, I agree fully with you...but my criticism must be mooted because unfortunately Hillary gave pretty much the same speech(maybe the same speech writer got 'twopher'...Hillary: yesterday.

We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working.

We're just years too late changing our tactics. We can't ever let that happen again. We can't be fighting the last war. We have to be preparing to fight the new war.

Hillary is saying we need more firepower, more men in that part of the world and with 'your God's help, we will win' ...I don't don't see much difference in the rhetoric do you?

Steve Crickmore:

The 'surge' is working (for the time- being) in Anbar because from 2003 to 2006 the US forces used to employ so many huge, violent military operations, the seige of Fallujah, for example that killed so many civilians, they alienated the people of al-Anbar. Now with a change of tactics, they are basically arming the local parties to sort out - Al-Queda.. From the American Prospect

Al-Qaeda in Iraq is even more incompetent than we are: In barely two years of existence, it's managed to alienate a good number of Iraqi Sunnis, its only bastion of support, through its bloodthirsty and theocratic impulses. U.S. withdrawal may have many negative results, but an al-Qaeda mini-state in Iraq won't be one of them. Tribal leaders and insurgent groups, like the 1920 Revolution Brigades, (which were fighting us) have accepted U.S. sponsorship and collaboration in order to drive al-Qaeda in Iraq out of Anbar and Diyala provinces.
Of course if it wasn't for us, al Queda would never have been there in the first place, but Anbar, even as a special case, may be a paradigm of not on how we might further stay in Iraq, but how we might withdraw from the entire country.

The inexperienced Obama forsaw this from the beginning.. the mess of Iraq. in October 2002. Obama:
I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

For all her 'command performance' Hillary still hasn't got to where Obama was 5 years ago, on the most important issue of the day. ..And Bush is still back in Vietnam, like all the neo cons, who masterfully avoided it at the time.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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