No Exit Strategy
The American people have only one question left about Iraq: What is President Bush’s plan for a timely and responsible exit? That is the essential precondition for salvaging broader American interests in the Middle East and for waging a more effective fight against Al Qaeda in its base areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And it is exactly the question that Mr. Bush, his top generals and his diplomats so stubbornly and damagingly refuse to answer.Now everyone with half a brain, which fortunately is now a majority of Americans, knows the occupation can't continue. The American people won't tolerate and the overstretched demoralized military can't do it. But......
Yesterday provided two more frustrating and shameful examples of this denial. One was a new war plan drawn up by America’s top military commander and top diplomat in Baghdad that will keep American troops fighting in Iraq at least until 2009. The other was yet one more speech by President Bush that claimed that Iraq was the do-or-die front in the war on terrorism — rather than a rallying point for extremists and a never-ending drain on the resources America needs to fight that fight.
The war plan drawn up by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker simply assumes that a large-scale United States military presence in Iraq will continue for at least two more years.Reality - that's not my job man!
So much for Mr. Bush’s soothing incantations about a relatively short-term “surge” of additional troops. The plan ignores the fact that the volunteer Army cannot sustain a prolonged escalation without grievous losses in quality, readiness and morale. Even more unrealistically, the plan assumes that with two more years of an American blank check, Iraqi politicians will somehow decide to take responsibility for their political future — something they’ve refused to do for the last four years.
General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker may feel they have little choice but to project the administration’s flawed policies to their logical, or illogical, conclusions. Mr. Bush does have a choice and a clear obligation to re-evaluate strategy when everything, but his own illusions, tells him that it is failing. Instead, he spoke yesterday as if the latest National Intelligence Estimate had not found Al Qaeda’s top leadership regrouped and resurgent in its old strongholds along the Pakistani-Afghan frontier. Or as if the latest bleak assessment of the Iraqi government’s political and economic failures had never been issued.Now I don't for one minute believe that Bush and Cheney don't know the party is over. At this point they are looking for someone else to blame the failure on. Wake up Republican lawmakers - it's you along with the Democrats of course. The Bush/Cheney cabal wants congress to end the occupation of Iraq so congress, both Democrats and Republicans will take the heat for the loss. But fear not, that is not how history will see it.
Mr. Bush proposed no realistic new plan for more effectively fighting Al Qaeda in its heartland or for exiting from the tragic misadventure in Iraq. Instead he offered the familiar, simplistic and misleading arguments that he used to drag the country into this disastrous war to start.
Prolonging the war for another two years will not bring victory. It will mean more lives lost, more damage to America’s international standing and fewer resources to fight the real fight against terrorists. If Mr. Bush’s advisers can’t tell him that, Congress will have to — with a veto-proof majority.