Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Some thoughts before Bush's latest speech on Iraq

With just under two and a half hours before Bush gives his long-anticipated "new way forward" speech, I will give my reactions to what has been said about this new plan thusfar.

Assuming that sending more troops to Iraq is a good idea, 20,000 is way too little and way too freaking late. We should have gone into the war with 2-3 times more troops that what we sent initially. If (and that's a big "if") Iraq was ever going to be brought under control from a security standpoint, it had to be done early and decisively. If we had sent many more troops to begin with, there would have been a chance to have kept things from getting out of control in the first place. Instead, when the Army Chief of Staff (Shinseki) told Congress that several hundred thousand troops would be need to secure Iraq after the war, he was ridiculed by the Bush administration.

Even if Bush wanted to send many more than 20,000 troops, it could not happen because we simply do not have the resources. Now, if the Bush administration had not been such a huge bunch of assholes before the war, maybe we could have put together a true international coalition which would have provided meaningful amounts of troops and other resources (you know, like Bush's father did for the Gulf War), meaning there would have been a chance of controlling the situation in the first place. And then maybe we could get other nations to help supply troops and resources in levels sufficient to try to get the current situation under control (again, assuming that sending more troops is a good idea).

In case you haven't heard, one of the U.S. commanders in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, said the war--and the U.S. role therein--is going to last at least two or three more years.

The reports have been that Bush is going to push for "benchmarks" for the Iraqis to meet. This ain't new, folks. Whether called "benchmarks" or something else, we have been setting benchmarks to be met, and the Iraqi government has met almost none of them.

Any setting of benchmarks has to come with some sort of timetable and some sort of adverse consequence for the Iraqi government if benchmarks are not met. Otherwise, we will have exactly the same plan we have had (with 20,000 more troops), and that ain't exactly been getting the job done.

Regardless of what Bush proposes, there is a good chance it will not achieve whatever he perceives as "victory." The whole situation has become a clusterfuck of the most epic proportions. Outside of a massive divine intervention, I am not sure what can work in Iraq.

Nonetheless, I will listen to what Bush says tonight. Maybe he will prove me wrong.

UPDATE: I just read Kevin Drum's analysis of what has been revealed about the "new plan," and I really wish I had written it. Instead, I give Mr. Drum all the credit for expressing such deserved skepticism and sarcasm:
Hmmm. Sounds like the same old schtick after all: troops first, and then benchmarks. And we really, really mean it this time. If the benchmarks aren't met, we'll....um....we'll....set some new benchmarks! That'll show 'em we mean business.

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