Friday, October 20, 2006
Yesterday Toni Snow (read George Bush) put an end to the mystery of how America is going to win in Iraq. He dumped the problem on the next president. He said two things that are critical. One, we are not leaving until we achieve victory. Two, he ruled out partitioning Iraq. Why did he do this yesterday?
First his top general on the ground said in as strong a words as he is allowed to, that we can’t win with this (read Bush) strategy. That strategy cannot be his own or he would change it rather than criticize it. So Washington is tying his hands. Bush had to respond and said “nothing but victory”. Remember his victory condition is an Iraq capable of policing itself. Is that possible? With an integrated army, No! If all they were fighting were non-Iraqi combatants, the foreign insurgents, victory could be possible. This does not mean the enemy is crushed. Only means that the Iraqi army can successfully fight the insurgents. The insurgents are no longer the main combatants. Sectarian militias are. The bell weather to watch there is Muqtada al-Sadr, the most visible Shiite militia leader. A quote from USA Today, “One of the largest Shiite militias, the Mahdi Army, is loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical cleric whose forces have battled the American military. Today, al-Sadr's political organization is a key part of the coalition government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Sadr's organization controls 30 seats in Parliament and four Cabinet posts.” Another quote from USA Today, "At some point, from the coalition side, we have to say (the Mahdi Army) is a terrorist organization that must be dealt with by the Iraqi government and the U.S.," said Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, head of the Iraqi Assistance Group. The Mahdi Army "hasn't seen the full weight of what we could put on them." General Dana Pittard knows there is no chance that a Shiite dominated government directing a Shiite dominated army is going to go into Shiite Land and kill Muqtada al-Sadr. As long as he deplores the violence he is untouchable. That means sectarian violence will continue to the Sunnis are all dead (long after Bush leaves office).
Meanwhile Bush continues to stick American troops in the crossfire, where they are not wanted and generate body bags. Another USA Today quote, “The State Department, meanwhile, has conducted its own poll, something it does periodically, spokesman Sean McCormack said. The State Department poll found two-thirds of Iraqis in Baghdad favor an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces, according to The Washington Post. McCormack declined to discuss details of the department's poll.” Just whom are we helping?
Second, Bush had to respond to the leaks from his own “Baker Commission”. In essence he has condemned his own report for recommending a split along sectarian lines before it is released. This was his only chance to end the sectarian violence long enough to pull out and declare victory on his watch.
So what should Bush do, since victory is no longer possible? Why is that you may ask? Even a second lieutenant knows you defeat the enemy by destroying his centers of gravity (sources of power). Who is the enemy? The Shiites and Sunnis? Yes, but they are politically untouchable. The foreign insurgents, the Saudi, Syrian, Egyptian, Palestinian, Pakistani and Jordanian hot heads? Is Bush going to do anything to these centers of gravity? No. He is going to continue to have our foot soldiers fight their hot heads. A no win scenario that generates body bags.
Also, another quote from USA Today, “BAGHDAD — U.S. and Iraqi military forces battling militias in Baghdad often must seek permission from Iraq's government before launching even routine missions, complicating efforts to loosen the grip of religious violence in the capital.” Our Army is no longer calling the shots.
Only alternative, within the very narrow Bush rules of engagement (stay until we win); pull all Americans out of the cities, where the insurgents have the advantage. Place them in well-defended laagers in the middle of the desert where our technology can defeat any fools who try to kill us. Zero body bags for the next two years. Dump the problem on the next president.
I write this with no joy. I am not a Bush basher, but a patriot who cares more about our troops than politicians. Yesterday was a very sad day in American foreign policy. Assured defeat.