WASHINGTON, D.C.–President Bush’s speech this morning at the Naval Academy is a reflection of his stubborn, narrow-vision approach to
governing. More and more, what he says is devoid of
reality. To listen to Bush is to enter a dreamworld.
Faced with incontrovertible facts of increasing
costs ($6 billion a month), soldier deaths day after
day(2,100), growing disenchantment in Congress (The
Senate is demanding periodic reports on how the war is
faring), the failure of the Iraqi security forces to
protect the country,all signs of a coming defeat,
he keeps on keeping on with pledges of total
victory. He won’t set “artificial deadlines” for
withdrawal. “No war has ever been won on a timetable –
and neither will this one,” the National Strategy for
Victory in Iraq says.
“These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the
conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good
judgment of our commanders, not by artificial
timetables set by politicians in Washington,” Bush
said in his followup address.
Bush’s swaggering style reinforces his
image and that of the country of being a bully
and, worse, a loser.
“America will not run in the face
of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your
commander-in-chief,” says Bush, the man who squirmed
his way out of Vietnam duty.
Bush’s backup as always is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who
yesterday said, “The people who have been denigrating
the Iraqi security forces are flat wrong,” he said at
a Pentagon news conference. “They’ve been wrong from
the beginning. They’re doing a darn good job, and
they’re doing an increasingly better job every day,
every week, every month.”
Much of this present–and long overdue talk of an actual strategy for Iraq began with the pre-Thanksgiving call by Representative John Murtha to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. Murtha, a Democrat, combat veteran, and decorated Marine, got smacked down almost immediately by Republicans. First they called him a coward, and then tried to show him as muddle-headed.
And then came the smacks from conservative Democrats, like Connecticut
senator Joe Lieberman. In the Wall
Street Journal, Lieberman argued, “I am convinced almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East
will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than
the Iraqi military is capable of securing the
country.” He added that he was disappointed by “Democrats
focusing on how President Bush took America into the
war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans
who are more worried about whether the war will bring
them down in next November’s elections than they are
concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq
in the months and years ahead.”
As for Bush’s national victory strategy, an
unclassified version of the obvious, Bush breaks down
the enemy into three groups: Rejectionists, mostly Sunni
Arabs, whose resistance the U.S. thinks will gradually
fade. Second are the Saddamists, active members of the
former regime whose power the U.S. expects to decline
over time until finally the Iraqi security forces can
defeat them. And finally there are the terrorists, who
are tied in with al Qaeda and who must be hunted down
and captured or killed.
All of this seems removed from reality, in which the
U.S. can’t guarantee security and its allies in the
Iraqi military are commonly viewed as U.S. puppets sent
out to conduct torture. The Iraqis want the U.S. out.
Most of all, Bush himself and his
strategy statement omit oil, a major reason–if not the only reason–for invading Iraq to begin with. And here the U.S. is on
the verge of executing a total takeover of the once
nationalized industry, turning it instead into a
privatized business to be run by the big international
companies–descendants of the original oil companies
that colonized Iraq to begin with.