Bush's Proposal of 'Benchmarks' for Iraq Sounds Familiar
The text of President Bush's news conference yesterday ran to nearly 10,000 words, but what may have been more significant were the things he did not say.Ricks also noticed that he remained inflexibly flexible.
The president talked repeatedly about "benchmarks" for progress in Iraq, using that word 13 times. But he did not discuss the consequences of the Iraqi government missing those targets. Such a question, he said, was "hypothetical."
That response left unclear how the benchmarks would be different from previous times when the United States has set out intentions, only to back down. For example, the original war plan envisioned the U.S. troop presence in Iraq being cut to 30,000 by the fall of 2003. Last year, some top U.S. commanders thought they would be able to significantly cut the U.S. troop level in Iraq this year -- a hope now officially abandoned. More recently, the U.S. military all but withdrew from Baghdad, only to have to have to reenter the capital as security evaporated from its streets and Iraqi forces proved unable to restore calm by themselves.
President Bush also spoke several times yesterday about his flexibility, apparently as a way of countering critics calling for a major change in his approach to Iraq. But he made it clear that he was talking about tactical adjustments, rather than the kind of sweeping strategic revision being mulled by the Iraq Study Group led by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former representative Lee H. Hamilton, and also being urged by a host of members of Congress and political pundits.And this:
"Our goals are unchanging," he emphasized in his opening remarks. "We are flexible in our methods to achieving those goals."In other words "Stay the Course".
He was still trying to sell the same old wreck. The only thing that has changed is the pitch. This on the same day five more Americans were killed bringing October's death toll to 96. Would you buy a used war from this crooked salesman? I didn't think so.