Sunday, June 24, 2007

Yeah, Right

One of the characteristics of the current administration is that the President doesn't like to hear bad news or opinions that differ from the one he holds. That's why this story in today's NY Times is curious. It suggests that Mr. Bush is going to get lots of opinions on the status of the surge in Iraq come September when he faces a deadline set by Congress.

Last month, Congress set a deadline for the American commander in Iraq, declaring that by Sept. 15 he would have to assess progress there before billions more dollars are approved to finance the military effort to stabilize the country. The commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, said in recent days that his report would be only a snapshot of trends, strongly suggesting he will be asking for more time.

But even before he composes the first sentences of the report, to be written with the new American ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan C. Crocker, the administration is commissioning other assessments that could dilute its findings about the impact of the current troop increase. The intent appears to be to give President Bush, who publicly puts great emphasis on listening to his field commanders, a wide range of options.
[Emphasis added]

It almost sounds like the President is going to be seeking alternatives to his current policy, which would be astounding, given the past six plus years. Is this a dramatic turn-around for how the White House conducts its business? I find that highly unlikely. I think it more a case of continuing smoke and mirrors, which the article itself hints at:

Advisers to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and senior members of Congress who have discussed the issue with Mr. Gates have described one of his central goals as trying to turn down the heat in Iraq, transforming the war from the central national security crisis confronting the nation to an important but manageable long-term foreign policy and military issue. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has expressed similar views, but it is unclear whether Vice President Dick Cheney or President Bush will try to squeeze every possible month out of the troop increase. [Emphasis added]

Changing the name of the policy, rather than the policy itself, would allow the President to continue in pretty much the same fashion, and my bet is that is exactly what he will try to do. Why else build the elaborate palatial embassy in the Green Zone? Why else construct heavily fortified permanent bases throughout Iraq? This administration wants a continuing military presence in the Middle East, and Iraq has been designated as the location.

This gathering of diverse opinions is just another ruse, much as the commissioning of the Iraq Study Group was. Once the report from that group was produced, the White House then proceeded to call in other opinions, ones more in line with what the administration wanted.

September 15 is just a date, the war still a comma, the deaths of more US soldiers unfortunate, but unavoidable.

Nothing new here, just a call for clean cups.



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