Commission members say they concluded that Mr. Bush’s strategy so far has created an expectation that the United States will always be there to hold Iraq together. Breaking that culture of dependency, they concluded, is the key to making the long-discussed “Iraqification” of the country’s security a reality. But they are uncertain whether they can persuade a famously stubborn president to adopt that view.
“Is George Bush ready to hear that?” one commission member asked over the weekend. “I don’t think any of us really know. I don’t know if the president himself knows.”
Much of the debate about Iraq in the American press revolves around factions in Washington DC. Will Democrats force a reduction in US forces? Has George W. Bush finally felt some serious doubt about his own decisions and his own judgment? Are the divisions within the Bush Administration deepening? Will Bush decide to drop attempts to treat the Sunnis and Shias equally and side with the Shia Arabs against the Sunni Arabs? But all these debates are becoming steadily more irrelevant as the Iraqis scale up their civil war and US forces fail to make much of a dent in the civil war, the corruption, the division of the Iraqi government into groups of ministries run by different militias, death squads operated by militias allied with top Iraqi government officials, and all the rest of the hell which Iraq has become.
The Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton will make many recommendations in their forthcoming report. One of the recommendations which Bush will agree with is the need to move more US military units into training and advising positions for the Iraqi army.
Administration officials say Mr. Bush is likely to embrace that part of the report, which will call for vastly increasing the number of American trainers embedded in Iraqi units, along with other provisions that he can argue are already being implemented.
These US soldiers will make the Iraqis more effective, but not enormously so. Iraqi forces that have American advisors still choke on the battlefield.
BAGHDAD, Dec. 2 -- The bullets flew from every direction -- from rooftops, windows, alleys and doorways.
Soldiers from the Iraqi army's 9th Division were pinned against a wall. They were under a covered sidewalk. According to accounts from U.S. forces who were with them on Friday, a suspected insurgent with an AK-47 assault rifle aimed at them from a doorway. Pieces of concrete fell as the insurgent's fire ripped into the wall above the Iraqi soldiers.
That's when they froze.
Teams of U.S. advisers remained close, but planned to leave the fighting to the Iraqis.
"It started out that way. But about five minutes into it, we had to take over," Staff Sgt. Michael Baxter, 35, said.
Would you believe that the US soldiers on the ground with these Iraqis painted a bleaker picture of their performance than US military PR flacks did?
While President Bush might still harbor no doubts as to the wisdom of his decisions on Iraq (after all, he prayed to God for guidance as he made these decisions) recently former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld advocated many changes in strategy right before he left office.
But the defense secretary's unusually expansive memo also laid out a series of 21 possible courses of action regarding Iraq strategy, including many that would transform the U.S. occupation.
Michael O'Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the revelation of the memo would undercut any attempt by President Bush to defend anything resembling a "stay the course" policy in Iraq.
"When you have the outgoing secretary of defense, the main architect of Bush's policy, saying it's failing, that puts a lot more pressure on Bush," he said.
Does Bush really feel that pressure? I doubt it. But, again, it does not matter. The Iraqis are going to continue running death squads for ethnic killing and cleansing. The de facto partitioning will proceed apace as the middle class and the Christians who can find ways out of Iraq continue to flee. The next election (if there is one) will boost Shia cleric warrior Moqtada al-Sadr's share of the Parliament and cabinet positions.
People in Washington DC have dwindling influence over the course of events in Iraq. What's more important about the debate in DC is whether America's elites are going to become more realistic about human nature as a result of the Iraq debacle. The huge costs of Iraq could pay some dividends if the fools we have for elites admitted that Islam is not compatible with democracy, separation of religion and state, and equal treatment of non-believers. We'd get benefits if our elites admitted that Muslim immigration into the West is harmful to us. But so far even this enormous mistake has not been enough to get the fools who rule over us to step out of the liberal mental straitjackets that set the parameters for how they look at the world.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 December 05 10:03 PM Mideast Iraq Exit Debate|