Sunday, July 20, 2008

That's Gotta Leave A Mark

Lawrence J. Korb, who served as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, has a scathing op-ed piece in today's Boston Globe in which he notes the competing goals of President Bush and President al-Maliki of Iraq.

The Bush administration envisions a prolonged US military presence in Iraq with hundreds of large bases, and with American forces free to conduct military operations against what they perceive as Iraq's internal and external enemies. The administration says this would achieve victory over the terrorists, who in its view were preventing Iraq from becoming a peaceful, stable democracy allied to the United States that could help contain Iran. Despite Friday's announcement, the president still insists he is against an artificial timetable for withdrawal.

The Iraqis see it differently. Maliki argues that the terrorists have been defeated and the United States needs to set a withdrawal date if it wishes to remain when the UN mandate expires. Why the difference between Maliki and Bush? There are at least four reasons.

First, Maliki knows that if the United States does not set a withdrawal date, the status of forces agreement, or even a memorandum of understanding, will not be approved by the Iraqi Parliament. A majority of the Iraqi Parliament has signed a letter to that effect. ...

Second, there were not that many foreign terrorists to begin with. Despite the administration's claim that we are fighting them (Al Qaeda) over there (in Iraq) so we do not have to fight them over here (the United States), the number of Al Qaeda loyalists who came into the country after the US invasion never numbered more than 2,000. ...

Third, with the rising price of oil, Iraq is awash in money and no longer needs US assistance to rebuild its war-torn infrastructure. ...

Fourth, the Shi'ite dominated Iraqi government is not as concerned about the threat from Iran as the Bush administration. Many of Iraq's Shi'ite leaders lived in Iran during the regime of Saddam Hussein and see the Iranians as Shi'ite allies with whom they can and should have a close relationship - unlike Bush who sees the Iranians as the second coming of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.

Lawrence Korb hardly qualifies as a DFH (he has Reagan credentials, after all), so his analysis does deserve some attention from the DC Villagers. It's not, however, as if Mr. Korb is telling anyone anything new. I'm certain that at least a few of those working in the White House are fully aware of each of Mr. Korb's four bullet points, but that really doesn't matter. The Petulant President has decided, and that is that.

The fact that the term "time horizon", a term that has absolutely no meaning, has been selected over "time table" is telling. This president insists our troops must stay forever, and must do so with complete immunity from Iraq law. Anything less means that somehow going to war was not the right thing to do (which it most definitely was not) and that Mr. Bush was wrong to do so. We can't have that, now, can we?

It is Mr. Korb's concluding words that display his complete disgust with this administration:

As recently as June, when the president said "you know, of course, we're there at their invitation," Bush never envisioned them actually telling us to leave before his mission was accomplished. Just as he misjudged and mismanaged the situation going in, it is clear that he is equally clueless about when to get out and regain control of US policy.

Yes, I think that just about gets it.

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Blogger sidhra said...

The Clueless Presidency. A nice wrapper for Bush.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Between 2005 and 2007 all we heard from Iraq is that the US is fighting Al Qaida in Iraq. The media that is permanently connected to the Republican feeding tube repeated told us that.

Since the term appeared overnight and out of the blue is was clear that that it was yet another trick in the propaganda war to mislead the American people.

Korb tells us that the strongest military in the world using 130,000 soldiers was fighting 2000 Al Qaida terrorist.

5:53 PM  

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