September 5, 2007
Bush Moves Goal Post in Iraq from Security - to Security
Stanley Kubrick's brilliant comedy-noir Dr. Strangelove depicts a tense nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union. In a scene set in the war room of the Pentagon, Soviet Ambassador Alexi de Sadesky (Peter Bull) -- admitted to the sanctum sanctorum to talk to Soviet Premier Kissoff on the hotline -- begins surreptitiously snapping pictures with a tiny camera he has smuggled in. Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) spots him, and they start tussling.
President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) breaks up the kafuffle: "Gentlemen," he snaps, "you can't fight in here... this is the war room!"
Whereupon Ambassador de Sadesky, without waiting to be accused, immediately points to Gen. Turgidson (now holding the spy cam) and says, "this clumsy fool tried to plant that ridiculous camera on me!"
I can think of no more apt metaphor for this New York Times story, which brays that "Bush Shifts Terms for Measuring Progress in Iraq" -- because the president (Bush, not Muffley) insists on sticking to the original metric for the success of the counterinsurgency: Whether it's providing a security buffer in Baghdad to allow the Iraqi national parliament, in time, to make the hard political choices.
In reality, as it has become quite apparent that the new strategy is successfully doing exactly that, as well as unexpectedly routing al-Qaeda from Anbar, Diyala, Baghdad, and other former strongholds, it is the Democrats who have "shift[ed] terms for measuring progress," from their original demand that the the "surge" secure Baghdad to a new demand that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki actually enact a series of political goals dictated by the American Congress:
With the Democratic-led Congress poised to measure progress in Iraq by focusing on the central government’s failure to perform, President Bush is proposing a new gauge, by focusing on new American alliances with the tribes and local groups that Washington once feared would tear the country apart.
That shift in emphasis was implicit in Mr. Bush’s decision to bypass Baghdad on his eight-hour trip to Iraq, stopping instead in Anbar Province, once the heart of an anti-American Sunni insurgency. By meeting with tribal leaders who just a year ago were considered the enemy, and who now are fighting Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a president who has unveiled four or five strategies for winning over Iraqis -- depending on how one counts -- may now be on the cusp of yet another. [Say, wasn't the rap against Bush that he stubbornly insisted on "staying the course" and was mulishly unwilling to try new strategies?]
It is not clear whether the Democrats who control Congress will be in any mood to accept the changing measures. On Tuesday, there were contentious hearings over a Government Accountability Office report that, like last month’s National Intelligence Estimate, painted a bleak picture of Iraq’s future.
Demanding a particular parliamentary result before they will accept that Iraq is headed towards democracy is like saying that America is only a democracy when the Democrat is elected; that if people freely elect a Republican, that means we have a fascist regime. Oh, wait...
"This clumsy fool tried to plant that ridiculous metric on me!"
The author of this "analysis," David E. Sanger, makes an almost unanswerable argument that it's the president, not Congress, that is shifting ground. He writes:
It was the White House and the Iraqi government, not Congress, that first proposed the benchmarks for Iraq that are now producing failing grades, a provenance that raises questions about why the administration is declaring now that the government’s performance is not the best measure of change.
Well! Who can argue with that? Now that it's in black and white, those of us who remember differently have been refuted, stifled, and sacked.
Sanger -- who, as the Times' Tokyo bureau chief, was a longtime proponent of the Japanese "bubble" economy that burst in the 1990s, plunging Japan into its worst financial crisis in decades -- rode that economic experience into becoming the Times' chief economic correspondent. He appears to be applying the same level of perspicacity to his military analysis.
Curiously, ultra-liberal Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY, 100%), a relentless critic of the war, today made exactly the same arguments in the Senate, while announcing that the "surge" has failed. He also made the bizarre claim that the success in Anbar province occurred "despite the surge, not because of the surge." Did the senator read the "analysis," or did the analyst get his ideas from the senator?
Next, Sanger quotes approvingly from the unbiased former Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith:
But some of Mr. Bush’s critics regard the change as something far more significant, saying they believe it amounts to a grudging acknowledgment by the White House of something these critics themselves have long asserted -- that Iraq will never become the kind of cohesive, unified state that could be a democratic beacon for the Middle East.
“They have come around to the inevitable,” said Peter W. Galbraith, a former American diplomat whose 2006 book, “The End of Iraq,” argued that Mr. Bush was trying to rebuild a nation that never really existed, because Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds had never adopted a common Iraqi identity. “He has finally recognized that fact, and is now trying to work with it,” Mr. Galbraith said Tuesday.
Perhaps Sanger could have mentioned that Galbraith was appointed Ambassador to Croatia by President Bill Clinton -- and has worked for years for the independence of Kurdistan from Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. It's just barely possible that a Clinton ambassador who wants to see Iraq broken up might not be the most reliable lodestone for a discussion of whether Iraq is breaking up.
Oh, and he's also the son of socialist economist John Kenneth Galbraith. I'm sure Sanger would stress that this is guilt by association and entirely irrelevant... as is the fact that the complete title of Peter Galbraith's book mentioned above is the End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End. But I'm certain he can rise above his radical liberal sentiments and history to give us a fair and impartial take on the Iraq war... and so can Chuck Schumer.
Sanger finishes with a flourishing denouement that is an absolute treasure of archness, decadence, and snideness -- suitable for framing or wrapping fish, as Mad Magazine used to say about itself:
For now, however, the White House is arguing that the ground-up relationships they are building in places like Anbar are more important than keeping a scorecard of legislation passed or stalled in Baghdad. Whether that argument is enough to keep a few wavering Republicans on board may determine whether Mr. Bush gets a bit more time to try his latest strategy.
One must marvel at Sanger's self restraint for not saying, "his latest scheme."
This is a classic hit-piece of the kind honed to a fine edge by such luminaries as Robert "I seem to have become a verb" Fisk and Molly "Shrub" Ivins, though Sanger is perhaps a bit more obvious than those two. There is little of interest here... except for a window into the next phase of the ongoing Democratic campaign to surrender Iraq to al-Qaeda, dismantle all of our defenses against terrorism (intelligence, police, and military), and cut a deal with Iran for us to apologize and pay reparations... perhaps in exchange for Iran promising not to pollute our "precious bodily fluids."
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 5, 2007, at the time of 4:20 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/2412
The following hissed in response by: Terrye
What are these people, psychic? How can they know Iraq will never become a cohesive country? I am sure there were smart ass Europeans saying the same thing about the United States back in 1864 as well.
Never say never. Right now I would say there is as much chance the Iraqi Parliament will pass meaningful legislation as there is that our own Congress will.
The following hissed in response by: David M
Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/06/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
The above hissed in response by: David M at September 6, 2007 8:26 AM
The following hissed in response by: Big D
So Bush is emphasizing the things he can control (the security situation) and de-emphasizing the things he cannot control (the political situation)? Even if true, um, so? This is news...how?
The following hissed in response by: soccerdad
I noticed that the WaPo is taking a parallel course.
The above hissed in response by: soccerdad at September 6, 2007 12:49 PM
The following hissed in response by: narciso79
Galbraith seems rather dense on this point; having been one of the first to speak out on
the Anfal campaign in 1988; as a Senate foreign
relations committee staffer. he exaggerates the
Iranian threat; knowing full well the long history of Iranian cross border contacts with Talabani, Barzani. He speaks out against de-baathification; knowing how pernicious that
Nazi statelet clone was to all concerned. He
forgets that as ambassador in Croatia in the
mid 90s; he facilitated Iranian and Saudi operatives and material to fight the Balkan War.
He also asks us not to remember his long time
tie to Benazir Bhutto; the corrupt dynast who presided over AQ and the Taliban's early entrenchement. Interestingly, Sanger, was one of the reporters who published leaked Iraq war plans in 2002-2003; forcing us to scrap them and shift
The above hissed in response by: narciso79 at September 6, 2007 6:37 PM
The following hissed in response by: exDemo
The truly devastating thing about Mr. Schumer's current remarks, is that if true, it indicates that the US Army can soon begin to stand down, as the Iraqis HAVE STOOD UP!
Prior to the Surge, Peace and Victory had been achieved in 15 of the 18 Iraqi Provinces. Only Anbar, Diyallah, and Baghdad City province, were the remaining daily battlefields. This was a near universal agreement.
Of course occasionally, there was an outrage elsewhere, like against the Yazidis, but also the London Subway, the Madrid Train station, the Paris suburbs, the German airfields, and of course skyscrapers in New York City. But those are unusual events; the Iraqi war front was occurring daily in only three Iraqi provinces before the Surge. Now Anbar is much safer, Diyalla is much safer also, Baghdad and many of its suburbs are safer as well, but other boroughs of Baghdad are not yet secure. Peace with Victory is near to hand.
That is Bush's definition of Victory; America Stands down as Iraq stands up. Along with putting an elected democratic government in overall power, that is not in opposition to American interests.
Furthermore his patient, sometimes exasperating, policy of a carrot and a stick; not handling all the fighting with a massive US Army intrusion of 500,000 like in Vietnam, but patient, private, prodding, and arming, of the Iraqis. Waiting and defending them, while privately prodding them to reconcile disparate groups, build their new Democracy; new Army, new Police, and new democratic government, has worked.
Mr. Bush and his aides like Rumsfeld, even appear, in retrospect, to be geniuses, with the patience of Job. Their patiently waiting for the Iraqis themselves to organize, to mobilize and to engage, surely cost domestic political support. They accepted it, managed it, withstood electoral losses, even so, kept steadfastly to their course, and seem to have won. Casualties are tiny by comparison with most wars; a few thousand, barely above US pre-Bellum, US non-combatant deaths, instead of upwards of 50,000 military deaths, as other limited wars consumed, like Korea and Vietnam.
Explicitly: We have been VICTORIOUS!
We have now accomplished EVERY SINGLE ONE of our War Aims, except for the mopup. Just like after the allies had succesfully and permanently establishing themselves in Normandy in WWII. War fighting is still needed, the outcome appears to increasinfgly be ordained.
First: A genocidal mass killer and his government, has been overturned; he has been captured, tried in a court of law, and executed by the Iraqis themselves, not us.
Second: We can begin leaving soon, as a Democracy is in place, elections have been held with little overt corruption, and a democratic government is functioning. (At least as well as in Mr. Schumer's one Party State of New York functions).
Third: The Al Queda has been destroyed in its last strongholds of Anbar and Diyallah, by their supposed supporters, the Sunni Iraqis themselves. They have been massacred in their efforts to flee, and to stand in Diyalla's Buquaba.
Fourth: Meanwhile, the Shia Iraqis under Malawi, have already thrown the Sadr Persian Stooges, even though Shia, out of their Shia dominated, popularly elected government, in Baghdad.
Fifth: Even some ancillary side benefits have been achieved as well. The long suppressed nationalism of the Kurds has been met, within the Iraqi Federation, relieving the Middle East area of a future reason for war. Turkey's war bluster, and Iranian shelling, has even served to remind the Kurds that there is safety inside of an Iraq, with Big power support. Versus probable destruction through explicit efforts toward independence.
All these victorious accomplishments, in spite of somewhat seditious, self-serving fools, such as Mr. Schumer himself!
I accept his implicit designation, and second his implicit nomination of Mr. G W Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize...
The above hissed in response by: exDemo at September 7, 2007 11:40 AM
The following hissed in response by: hunter
It is interesting that these people literally cannot see, nor want, a victory.
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