Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Screwing The Pooch

The guiding philosophy behind the sudden urge to revise the master operational plan seems to be something along the line of, "Hey, we've been doing it doggy-style so long, why don't we try the good ol' missionary position? Or the wheelbarrow, that's one's always fun."

Bush, who was expected to showcase his new proposals in a speech by January 15, has been considering "all options" -- including what some have dubbed a "surge" or "sustained surge" in the number of US troops in Iraq.

But most opposition Democrats, a handful of prominent Republicans, and even the top US military commander in Baghdad, General George Casey, have warned against a prolonged expansion in the US military presence.

"The longer we in the US forces continue to bear the main burden of Iraq's security, it lengthens the time that the government of Iraq has to take the hard decisions about reconciliation and dealing with the militias," Casey told the New York Times in a telephone interview on Friday.

"And the other thing is that they can continue to blame us for all of Iraq's problems, which are at base their problems," said Casey, whose comments were published Tuesday.

I never get tired of the "blame the victim" caveats at work here, as if we bore absolutely no responsibility for unleashing forces that the Bushies either did not comprehend or didn't concern themselves with, even though they had been warned beforehand many times by many knowledgeable people. They thought they knew better, they heard what they wanted to hear and funneled the intel they wanted to use, and they let their legacy pundit proxies defame and accuse all who disagreed as pussies, appeasers, traitors.

And these are cultural and sectarian issues, and ancient grudges predating us which are in play here, obviously. But that doesn't absolve us from our responsibility, even if one still somehow believes that this was all just an honest, if tragic, mistake.

Meanwhile, a survey by the private Military Times media group, which caters to a US military audience but is not affiliated with the US Defense Department, found active-duty US troops disapproved of the way Bush has handled Iraq.

Just 35 percent approved, while 45 percent disapproved, according to the survey, the result of mailing questionnaires in mid-November to 6,000 drawn at random from the group's list of active-duty subscribers.

The poll found that 50 percent were very or somewhat confident that the United States would succeed in Iraq, while 41 percent were not very or not at all confident. The survey had a three-percentage-point error margin.

I think this shaping up to be a very intriguing State of the Union speech, which in the parlance of official beltway dickheads is supposed to set the tone for the legislative session. That is no longer in play; if Bush cannot even convince a majority of the troops of his judgment and acumen, then all he can do is beg a few senators and think-tank douchebags to provide a fig-leaf for his obstinacy. Good luck with that.

The situation is now simply far too all-encompassing -- and even paradoxical -- to address with even a tightly-focused troop surge. The Iraqis want us to get the fuck out, but if we do, the Sadr militias that have taken up sizable chunks of the Iraqi armed forces will engage in wholesale slaughter. The violence, as bad as it is, is practically guaranteed to spike sharply, and probably abate only as they run out of people to murder. The problem is political as much as it is infrastructural, as much as it is a tactical military situation. All you can do with more troops, without addressing political jockeying by a largely impotent Green Zone government, without even basic services and jobs, is clamp down and engender more seething hatred, encourage yet more desperation and futility.

Bush clearly doesn't get this. He's seen too many John Wayne movies or something, or thinks that a Hail Mary, followed by recovering an onside kick, followed by 50 yards of hook-and-ladder laterals will recoup that two-touchdown deficit in the final 30 seconds of the game, and we can all be heroes. This is not Rudy; anyone who actually watches football knows that that shit almost never works, which is why it's such a story when it does.

It's nice to pray and constantly iterate one's moral superiority and good intentions, but that doesn't pull a failed state of 25 million people out of the gulch. It's not a plan, it's not a fix, and shame on Bush and McCain for even pretending that it is.

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