Same old strategy

Dan Froomkin gets it exactly right on George Bush's “new strategy” in today's column:

As Washington journalists debate whether to call President Bush's
plan to send 20,000 more American troops into Iraq a “surge” or an
“escalation,” they are letting the White House get away with a much
more momentous semantic scam.

The White House would have you
believe that Bush tonight will be announcing a new strategy. But from
all indications, all Bush will be talking about — yet again — is
changing tactics…

Bush's overall strategy seems likely to
remain wholly unchanged: To keep U.S. troops in Iraq as long as it
takes for the Iraqi government to start functioning effectively. That
means using American bodies and firepower, pretty much indefinitely, to
prop up a country racked by civil war and chafing under occupation.
That means the American death count ticks on, with no end in sight.

Bush
is not wavering on that fundamental strategy, despite all the
indications that it's not working and despite the dramatic loss of
public support.

What the public, the Democrats running Congress,
some Republicans and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group have been calling
for is an actual change in strategy.

They don't want American soldiers held hostage to sectarian violence
and the Iraqis' inability to form themselves into a peaceful,
Western-style democracy. They want the troops to start coming home.
Their preferred strategy is to make it clear to the Iraqis that they'll
soon be on their own — and that they have to solve their problems
themselves.

For the White House to call Bush's speech tonight a
change in strategy is understandable spin. For journalists, however,
there's no excuse.

Couldn't have said it better myself, so I'll just leave it at that. 

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Reinventing history

If those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, what does that say about those who don't just forget history, but completely re-write it?  Press Secretary Tony Snow at yesterday's press briefing (courtesy ThinkProgress):

I think the public ought to just listen to what the president has to say. You
know that the mission accomplished banner was put up by members of the
USS Abraham Lincoln, and the president, on that very speech, said just
the opposite, didn?t he?

Of course, this is a complete fiction that has already been completely disproven.  Does he think we don't even have lexis/nexis to immediately prove the falsehood?  Of course not, he just doesn't care and counts on the laziness of the media to not call him on a complete and utter falsehood. 

The reality from ThinkProgress:

For that May 1, 2003, Bush stood in front of a large banner that
read, ?Mission Accomplished.? In the opening of his speech, he
declared, ?Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.
In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have
prevailed.? He called the ?battle of Iraq? a ?victory.? In his radio
address shortly after the speech, he boasted, ?I delivered good news to
the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: their mission is complete and major combat operations in Iraq have ended.?

Additionally, as Bob Woodward reported in October, then-Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had to pressure the White House to take out
of the speech the actual phrase ?Mission Accomplished,? but he couldn?t
?get the sign down.?

In Oct. 2003, then-White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan
admitted that the White House ? not members of USS Lincoln ? had ?take[n] care of the production of the banner.?



Surge

So, the worst kept secret in politics is that Bush's “new” plan for Iraq to be announced tonight includes a significant troop increase in Iraq.  The surge.  It would be great if this worked.  Believe it or not, even liberals who want us out of Iraq would be happy if we were able to leave because of actual success– it is just that we're incredibly dubious of the actual possibility of this.  And given all the comments I've read over the past week, plus plain old common sense, it seems incredibly unlikely that simply adding 20,000 or so troops to the mix is somehow going to turn around all these fundamental dynamics that are so working against us right now.  I'm going to be quite curious to see how the media covers Bush's speech in its aftermath tonight.  Basically, about the only people who think strategy has the ability to truly turn things around in Iraq are either in the employ of the President or the National Review (whose credibility on Iraq policy is right up their with Dick Cheney's).  Will it be treated like a serious, thoughtful proposal, or will they call it like it us– Bush hopelessly digging in his heels refusing to give into political or military reality.  I've read time and time again that to truly be effective in Iraq– if that is even possible anymore– we would need a good half million troops on the ground.  Not the 100-some thousand we've got (of which only about 70,000 are actually combat troops).   To increase to anywhere near the numbers that counter-insurgency experts say the situation would demand is 1) completely politically impossible; and 2) completely militarily impossible.  Therefore, this small scale surge really offers little more than a token symbol of Bush's unwillingness to face reality.  Presumably, the midterm elections were going to help Bush face reality.  Alas, I think this presidents head is buried to far in the sand of his own making to ever pull it all the way out.  Sadly, dead and wounded Americans and Iraqis and their families will pay the price. 

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