New Bush plan recalls Iraq strategies past
WASHINGTON — Eight months after President Bush made public a plan he hailed as the "New Way Forward" in Iraq, he's announced a new plan, this one called "Return on Success."Go read the entire thing.
The new plan was reminiscent of last year's "Operation Together Forward," which called for U.S. troops to secure neighborhoods in Baghdad and hand them over to Iraqi security forces. It bore similarities to an even older plan commonly articulated with the catchphrase "as they stand up, we'll stand down."
But on Thursday, Bush declared success and said troops were coming home, despite a range of government reports that says Iraqi civilian casualties remain high and that Iraqi security forces remain incapable of taking control.
Our "success in meeting these objectives now allows us to begin bringing some of our troops home," the president said.
Largely gone from the president's speech Thursday was his January insistence that the Iraqi government meet 18 benchmarks and sort out its differences on the most divisive issues in Iraq.
In January, the talk was tough: "America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced," Bush said then. "I've made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people — and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act."
The president was conciliatory Thursday in the face of Iraqi failure.
"The government has not met its own legislative benchmarks — and in my meetings with Iraqi leaders, I have made it clear that they must," Bush said. "Yet Iraq's national leaders are getting some things done."