Delusions of victory

Comment is Free, The Guardian, Sydney Blumenthal, December 21

Having rejected the ISG, Bush is now embracing the manifesto of a rump group of neocons for the escalation of the Iraq war.

“We’re going to win,” President Bush told a guest at a White House Christmas party. Another guest, ingratiating himself with his host, urged him to ignore the report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James Baker, the former secretary of state and his father’s close associate, which described the crisis in Iraq as “grave and deteriorating” and offered 79 recommendations for diplomacy, transferring responsibility to the Iraqi government and withdrawing nearly all US troops by 2008. “The president chuckled,” according to an account in the neoconservative Weekly Standard, “and said he’d made his position clear when he appeared with British prime minister Tony Blair. The report had never mentioned the possibility of American victory. Bush’s goal in Iraq, he said at the photo op with Blair, is ‘victory.'” Bush reasserted his belief that “victory in Iraq is achievable” at his Wednesday press conference.

Two members of the ISG were responsible for George Bush’s becoming president. Baker had manoeuvred through the thicket of the 2000 Florida contest, finally bringing Bush v Gore before the supreme court, where Sandra Day O’Connor was the deciding vote. (Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker reported that she had complained before hearing the case that she wanted to retire but did not want a Democrat to appoint her replacement.) Through the Iraq Study Group, Baker and O’Connor were attempting to salvage what they had made possible in Bush v Gore. Upon Bush’s receipt of the report, a White House spokesman told the press,”Jim Baker can go back to his day job.”

The day after the report was submitted, on December 8, Tony Blair appeared at the White House. He had testified before the Baker commission, and supported its main proposals, but now stood beside Bush as the president tossed them aside, talking instead of “victory.”

“The president isn’t standing alone,” explained White House press secretary Tony Snow. Blair left to pursue a vain mission for Middle East peace, emphasising by his presence the US absence. His predetermined failure outlined the dimensions of the vacuum that only the US could fill. On December 18, Chatham House, the former Royal Institute of International Affairs, issued a report on Blair’s foreign policy: “The root failure of Tony Blair’s foreign policy has been its inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way despite the sacrifice – military, political and financial – that the United Kingdom has made.”

The day before the Chatham House report was released, former secretary of state Colin Powell appeared on CBS News’s Face the Nation to announce his support for the rejected Iraq Study Group and declare, “We are not winning, we are losing.” He made plain his opposition to any new “surge” of troops in Baghdad, a tactic he said had already been tried and failed. Powell added that Bush had not explained “the mission” and that “we are a little less safe.”

2 Replies to “Delusions of victory”

  1. This is what the Decider has decided.
    The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

    Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority. (WTF)

    This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq:

    o The ground forces must accept longer tours for several years. National Guard units will have to accept increased deployments during this period.
    o Equipment shortages must be overcome by transferring equipment from non-deploying active duty, National Guard, and reserve units to those about to deploy. Military industry must be mobilized to provide replacement equipment sets urgently.
    o The president must request a dramatic increase in reconstruction aid for Iraq. Responsibility and accountability for reconstruction must be assigned to established agencies. The president must insist upon the completion of reconstruction projects. The president should also request a dramatic increase in CERP funds. (Central Bank of China can you hear me, love George)
    o The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this age.

    Failure in Iraq today will require far greater sacrifices tomorrow in far more desperate circumstances.

    Committing to victory now will demonstrate America’s strength to our friends and enemies around the world.

    Frederick W. Kagan is a resident scholar at AEI.

    “They wanted to sell millions of records and make a lot of money, I wanted to sell a couple hundred thousand records, break even, and tell the truth.”
    Steven Van Zandt

  2. Victory is still an option in Iraq [and a pony]. America, a country of 300 million people with a GDP of $12 trillion, and more than 1 million soldiers and marines can regain control of Iraq, a state the size of California with a population of 25 million and a GDP under $100 billion [so as you can see, it’s absurd to think we can’t handle this because… like… if you weighed our respective populations, we’d be way heavier too!].

    Victory in Iraq [and a pony] is vital to America’s security. Defeat will lead to regional conflict, humanitarian catastrophe, and increased global terrorism [but it’s unthinkable that it was simply a bad idea in the first place].

    Iraq has reached a critical point [but it’s unthinkable that it was simply a bad idea in the first place]. The strategy of relying on a political process to eliminate the insurgency has failed [but it’s unthinkable that it’s because it was simply a bad idea in the first place]. Rising sectarian violence [still remembering that it’s unthinkable that it was simply a bad idea in the first place] threatens to break America’s will to fight [“will to fight” is all to do with losing a PR war with a clever foe and nothing to do with waking up hung over the morning after a four year drinking binge and saying “we invaded WHO? we’re fighting WHY?”]. This violence will destroy the Iraqi government, armed forces, and people if it is not rapidly controlled [but it’s unthinkable that it was simply a bad idea in the first place].

    Victory in Iraq [and a pony] is still possible at an acceptable level of effort. We must adopt a new approach to the war and implement it quickly and decisively [but it’s unthinkable that it was simply a bad idea in the first place – and now we have new ideas!]…

    Development of an antigravity device that allows Fred to levitate is still an option too. In fact – it’s not a significantly less plausible option.

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