August 07, 2005
Has George Bush already admitted defeat in Iraq?
Michael Glitz, writing over at Americablog, has a killer post up today that really nails the heart of the matter in Iraq.
Though you wouldn't know it from my lack of political blogging over the past couple of weeks, the fact that there is a concerted effort by this administration to "rebrand" the War on Terror has not escaped my attention. The reasons were obvious to me initially: The administration is attempting to make the war, for which support is floundering in the polls and the situation on the ground has grown more and more untenable, more palatable to the American public, even as we are over a year away from the midterm elections. If the defeat of Paul Hackett in Ohio, in which a formerly 75% Republican district became a horse race in a matter of weeks, is any indication, the mood in America is not as strongly Red as it was in 2004.
Of course, in 2004, it wasn't as strongly Red as the outcome of the election made it appear to be.
And, so, the concerted effort by the Bush administration to rename the War on Terror as "A War on Extremism" (or, as Atrios pointed out today from a speech Bush gave last year, "the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world." How Clintonian is that?), began, as the 2006 elections (and the prospect of zero traction by the Republicans) loom on the horizon.
But Michael points out that there may be more to it.
As the New Yorker article that he links to says:
The Administration is admitting that its strategy since September 11th has failed, without really admitting it. The single-minded emphasis on hunting down terrorists has failed ("Hearts and minds are more important than capturing and killing people," Gregson said). The use of military force as the country's primary and, at times, only response has failed, and has stretched the Army and the Marines to the breaking point. Unilateralism has failed.
Despite the constant hand-wringing on the right that the good news in Iraq is never reported (another example of the curious victim mentality that a party who holds the Presidency, the Congress, is on the verge of holding the Supreme Court, does hold the majority of judicial seats in the country, as well as most Governors and state legislators, continues to fall back on), the news is not good from Iraq. Michael lands his most devastating blow, here:
According to the last numbers of the Pentagon circa Sen. Joe Biden (numbers no one in the Bush Administration has questioned and which Bush is careful to allude to in his public comments):
Iraq has 2000 troops capable of fighting on their own. 2000.
Iraq has maybe 9000 troops who can fight with our help.
The rest of the numbers they thrown about are meaningless because those people can't fight with or without our help and there's growing evidence they couldn't be properly armed even if they were capable.
So, 2000 troops. Let's assume Bush increases that number 100% by next spring. Heck, let's make that 200%. Okay, 1000%. Fine, let's be super-generous and say 2000%. That will mean by next spring Iraq has, if they're lucky, 40,000 troops capable of fighting on their own to secure a country WE can't secure with the best fighting force in the world.
The United States, initially, took 260,000 troops to Iraq, with another 45,000 from Great Britain.
It's time that the American public took a real look at Iraq. I'm sort of ambivalent about pulling out because, if we stay or if we go, it becomes more and more apparent with each passing day that we've created such a problem for ourselves there that 25 years of American occupation may not fix it. While I have respect for the "We can't set a deadline" argument, it almost doesn't matter anymore. While we may not have lost the war against Saddam Hussein and his army, we have lost the war against terror in Iraq. It's an incredible defeat, really, seeing as there were no terrorists there before we showed up. We didn't just grab defeat out of the hands of victory: we grabbed defeat out of the hands of people who weren't fighting us there in the first place.
And it's severely crippled our ability to, truly, fight terrorism (which is an effort that all but the most pacifist of Democrats supported, from September 12, 2001 on). To try to distract the American people from Iraq by rebranding the war as something more than it is... well, it's a last ditch effort to fool us (and don't confuse my resolute tone with the fact that I don't believe that they'll be largely successful at duping an apathetic American populice who is more engaged with the facts in the Nathalie Holloway story than this).
We have lost the war in Iraq. It's that simple. The most powerful fighting force in the world has been defeated in Iraq for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is poor planning. This defeat should be laid solely on the shoulders of George W. Bush. This isn't and issue like the economy in 2004, which Bush could blame on Clinton, or even the 9/11 attacks themselves (which they tried desperately to blame on previous administrations). This failure is one that George Bush went into alone, and he, alone, bears responsibility for the results.
Posted by DeLong at August 7, 2005 08:34 PM