Victorious warriors win first and then go to war

Bush’s new plan in which we’re bound to keep turning corners and having turning points,

We’re moving forward with a five-point plan for Iraqi self-government. We’re handing over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government; we’re encouraging more international support for the Iraqi transition; we’re helping the Iraqis take responsibility for their own security; we’re continuing to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure; and we are moving toward free elections. A turning point will come in less than two weeks. On June the 30th, full sovereignty will be transferred to the interim government. The Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, an American embassy will open in the capital of a free Iraq. (Applause.) Bush – June 18, 2004

And that paragon of insight and wisdom Dick “Bunker” Cheney has also reassured us,

And so I think all of that is measurable progress. And while the level of violence has continued, I do believe that when we look back on this period of time, 2005 will have been the turning point when, in fact, we made sufficient progress both on the political front and the security front so that we’ll see that as the watershed year. Office of the Vice President
December 18, 2005

They’re like a car salesman stuck in a loop they just keep repeating the same sales pitch over and over,

It’s a remarkable transformation for a country that has virtually no experience with democracy, and which is struggling to overcome the legacy of one of the worst tyrannies the world has known. And Iraqis achieved all this while determined enemies use violence and destruction to stop the progress. There’s still a lot of difficult work to be done in Iraq, but thanks to the courage of the Iraqi people, the year 2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq, the history of the Middle East, and the history of freedom. Bush, December 12, 2005

Well, I think we’re making progress against the insurgency. I think we have been now — I think we’ll look back several years from now and see that 2005 was really a turning point, in the sense the progress we made both in terms of training Iraqi forces, because we’ve now got a large number of Iraqis taking the lead various places around the country from a security and military standpoint, but also because of the political milestones that were achieved that — from the elections in January of ’05, the writing of the constitution, the ratification of that constitution in October, the national elections in December under the new constitution, I think those political milestones, if you will, every single one of which has been met, are vital in terms of our ultimate success in Iraq of establishing a democratically elected government, and a security situation that the Iraqis themselves can handle. Office of the Vice President, February 7, 2006

But wait a minute BushCo admits that those turning points were really never turned. The lemon he sold the American public and the Iraqis was a lemon then and it sounds like its still a lemon, Bush will add more than 20,000 troops to Iraq

Linking the fight in Iraq with the greater war on terror, President Bush told the nation there is “no magic formula for success in Iraq” but that failure there “would be a disaster for the United States.”

Bush recognized that the progress of the war is “unacceptable to the American people — and it is unacceptable to me,” adding, “Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.”

Bush said that if the situation in Iraq does not turn for the better, “Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits.” ( the domino theory applied to Iraq. Hey it worked forty years ago)

Got that. Bush invaded Iraq and opened the door to extremists, ignored religious and tribal factions and allowed things to spiral out of control, but he’s pretty darn sure he’s learned his lesson and with more troops for the insurgents to shoot at we’ll soon be turning more corners. A Change in Tactics, Not Strategy

As Washington journalists debate whether to call President Bush’s plan to send 20,000 more American troops into Iraq a “surge” or an “escalation,” they are letting the White House get away with a much more momentous semantic scam.

The White House would have you believe that Bush tonight will be announcing a new strategy. But from all indications, all Bush will be talking about — yet again — is changing tactics.

A relatively minor increase in troops, a promise of greater cooperation from the Iraqi prime minister, a small infusion of reconstruction money — not only have we heard all this before, but it doesn’t amount to much.

Bush’s overall strategy seems likely to remain wholly unchanged: To keep U.S. troops in Iraq as long as it takes for the Iraqi government to start functioning effectively. That means using American bodies and firepower, pretty much indefinitely, to prop up a country racked by civil war and chafing under occupation. That means the American death count ticks on, with no end in sight.

Bush is not wavering on that fundamental strategy, despite all the indications that it’s not working and despite the dramatic loss of public support.

What the public, the Democrats running Congress, some Republicans and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group have been calling for is an actual change in strategy.

They don’t want American soldiers held hostage to sectarian violence and the Iraqis’ inability to form themselves into a peaceful, Western-style democracy. They want the troops to start coming home. Their preferred strategy is to make it clear to the Iraqis that they’ll soon be on their own — and that they have to solve their problems themselves.

For the White House to call Bush’s speech tonight a change in strategy is understandable spin. For journalists, however, there’s no excuse.
And Furthermore

Two other quick observations before I dive into the coverage:

1) It’s not just, as The Washington Post points out today, that Bush is breaking with his generals; it’s that he seems to me to be channeling Vice President Cheney. Unwilling to change course, Bush has apparently adopted Cheney’s overheated arguments that failure would set off a domino effect of geo-political disasters.

2) The White House simply cannot answer the seminal question: Why should we think things will be different this time? (emphasis mine)

With the help of the broadcast media and the usual suspects on the Right this has been sold as a revolutionary new rethinking and some new insights which will inform what really amounts to the same old thing with more boots on the ground. Whatever these guys are it is not hard nosed realists, they see facing reality the same way someone with vertigo sees standing on the edge of a cliff they’re just not going to do it. Bush and assorted keyboard warriors would rather send more troops, more targets for the factions engaged to an fight to the death in a low level civil war. Bush and Cheney tacitly admit that the clunker they sold us isn’t working so they’re going to put on a new coat of paint after which it should run just fine. Promises, Promises What happens if the Iraqis fail again?

As Bush said, the whole point of this surge is to help assure the survival, durability, and legitimacy of a central Iraqi government. If the government founders on these sorts of issues, an influx of American troops—whether they number 20,000 or 200,000—won’t matter.

This leads to the cynical interpretation of tonight’s speech: The benchmarks place such an overwhelming burden on Maliki’s government, he’ll unavoidably fail to meet them; when this failure becomes clear, and the American surge does little to improve matters, Bush—or, better still, his successor—will pull out with a shrug and the patina of good conscience, absolving himself of blame for the deluge that follows. Whether or not the leaders of the White House devised the new plan with this scenario in mind (and I don’t think they did), it offers a tempting way out if worse comes to dead worst.

But here we come to this speech’s most dreadful shortcoming: Bush’s failure to outline any backup plan at all if his plan comes to naught. Worse still, he strongly suggested that he will resist such a plan. A realistic backup plan would rely on region-wide diplomacy to keep the conflagration of all-out civil war from spreading across the Middle East.

Kaplan nails the bottom line on Bush’s new plan it will delay the pull out of American forces until he is in no longer in office. His successor, most likely a Democrat will be left being the one to devise an orderly withdraw and/or dealing with a middle-east scared with pockets of conflicts with Iraq in the center. If there are Iraqis who want democracy and peace then leave them to it – send food and medical supplies and get American troops out of the way sooner rather then later.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”  Sun-tzu (~400 BC), The Art of War. Strategic Assessments

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