Friday, 12 January 2007

A 'new direction' or a new disaster?

Read more HERE and HERE.

President Bush: situation in Iraq is 'unacceptable'. "Unacceptable” is definitely a vague understatement, and I would not be surprised if the president turned around soon and said Iraq is going peachy [again]. Either he thinks we are idiots, he is the idiot himself, or both. “Unacceptable” is what you say when you get burnt toast at a diner or your kid gets a D on their math test, not what you say about a civil war that you effectively created with pour policies, being closed-minded, and invading that nation in the first place!

Especially in the way President Bush seemed to yet again imply the non-existent connection between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Iraq. There are even suggestions many of his references were targeted at Iran.

I have made a bet with some of my friends that President Bush will soon turn around and tell the nation Iraq is going peachy — again. This ‘Iraq is unacceptable’ rhetoric will not last. Bush is just trying, and failing miserably, to convince various groups of people that he is doing the right thing in Iraq. By admitting his role in the disastrous situation, he also gets the media and some critics off his back, they can no longer say he has been incompetent and not admitting of his poor judgment.

Already there are troubles with Bush's new plan. BBC News:

The US defence secretary has said there is no timetable for Iraq to prove it has fulfilled commitments required by the US in President Bush's new plan.

But Robert Gates said the US would have a "good idea" of the Iraqi government's success before many new troops went in.

The plan, by which more than 20,000 more troops will be sent to Iraq, may begin in earnest around the first week in February, he told a Senate hearing.

Both Democrats and some Republicans have criticised the plan.

Mr Bush plans to send at least 20,000 more troops, saying it will help bring security to Baghdad's streets.

And Congress — as well as the public — is against (WP) the plans too (see top of this post for further links).
President Bush's proposal to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq encountered strong bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill yesterday, and his top national security advisers, dispatched to defend the strategy, were greeted with a skepticism not seen from Congress over the past six years.

Lawmakers said they have little confidence that the Iraqi government has the capacity to deliver on promises to take the lead in cracking down on violent militias and providing security in Baghdad, as the president's plan contemplates. Democrats and Republicans alike said they are concerned that Bush's plan, announced Wednesday night in a nationally televised prime-time address, is too little and too late and does not appear very different from previous efforts to secure the capital.

Here's a good editorial from The New York Times criticizing Bush more for what he did not say than what he did say. Who knows if the podium and audience will be as large next time he makes a speech, maybe he lost his chance to help his legacy at least a bit...
President Bush told Americans last night that failure in Iraq would be a disaster. The disaster is Mr. Bush’s war, and he has already failed. Last night was his chance to stop offering more fog and be honest with the nation, and he did not take it.

Americans needed to hear a clear plan to extricate United States troops from the disaster that Mr. Bush created. What they got was more gauzy talk of victory in the war on terrorism and of creating a “young democracy” in Iraq. In other words, a way for this president to run out the clock and leave his mess for the next one.

Mr. Bush did acknowledge that some of his previous tactics had failed. But even then, the president sounded as if he were an accidental tourist in Iraq. He described the failure of last year’s effort to pacify Baghdad as if the White House and the Pentagon bore no responsibility.

In any case, Mr. Bush’s excuses were tragically inadequate. The nation needs an eyes-wide-open recognition that the only goal left is to get the U.S. military out of this civil war in a way that could minimize the slaughter of Iraqis and reduce the chances that the chaos Mr. Bush unleashed will engulf Iraq’s neighbors.

What it certainly did not need were more of Mr. Bush’s open-ended threats to Iran and Syria.

Lastly, The New York Times has a great interactive version of Bush speech with analysis (here).
PRESIDENT BUSH has presented a new strategy for the war in Iraq that he feels can reverse the country’s drift toward large-scale civil war. The new plan focuses on stabilizing Baghdad by adding thousands of American troops with newly expanded powers to take on Shiite as well as Sunni rebels. It also includes a limited increase in United States forces in Anbar Province, and calls for Iraqi forces to take formal control of the security mission in November. The president was refreshingly candid, saying that “where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.”

But taken as a whole, the speech raised more questions than it answered.

This post will be updated with more commentary over the weekend!

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