Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Bush Plan For Iraq Falls Short

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The Bush Speech On Iraq Revealed No Real Policy Shift


Before I highlight the holes that I see in the “new” Iraq plan, I have to mention one of the things in the speech that really stood out. I found that this speech was intended to address Iran just as much as it was intended to address Iraq. Bush made clear how his administration planned to deal with Iran. It seems to me, from his comments, that they intend (at some point) to expand their adventure into Iran. Bush stated that he would strike Iranians who may be involved in Iraq. By mentioning the naval increase in the Persian Gulf, and mentioning that he intended to protect “allies” in the region with Patriot Air Defense Missile systems, that set off alarm bells for me. When the U.S. starts talking about deploying Patriot Missile units, that is often a precursor to some sort of military action. It appeared to me that the Bush administration was preparing the American public & the world for a possible widening of the war…with Iran being the target. Bush went out of his way in the speech to try to tie Iran to the insurgency in Iraq, and that Iran was involved with killing U.S. troops.

This seems to be an effort to lay the groundwork for some sort of military action against Iran. This is the opposite of what most Americans were seeking from Mr. Bush. Americans clearly wanted a de-escalation, not a possible expansion of the conflict, using the insurgency (as well as the nuclear research issue) as a pretext to attack Iran. This falls in line with all of the other reports that have suggested the U.S. would seek a military confrontation with Iran. I personally believe that Iran and Syria probably have only a small impact on what is going on in Iraq in terms of the insurgency. Sure, there is probably some involvement. No country can totally protect its borders. Also, Iraqi Shia share a religious history with Iranians. So naturally there will be some involvement, but it is up to the Iraqi government to decide how to deal with foreign interference.

It is no surprise that a day after the Bush speech & the warning of Iran, that a building in Arbil Iraq was raided by “coalition” troops, resulting in the seizing of several Iranian diplomats. This was a move that even angered the Kurds- the Whites House's closest allies in the Iraqi government. It looks like Bush is trying to provoke some sort of incident. The White House denies war plans…. But they said the same things about Iraq. When it comes to the Bush administration (or any administration… Clinton included) I have learned to watch what they do rather than listen to what they say. Because we are being lied to half the time anyway. However, their actions will not and cannot lie.

It is ironic to me that the Iraq study group (and others) have called for the U.S. to begin a diplomatic effort to engage Iran & Syria. However, the Bush administration has ignored this advice (along with most other advice), and has chosen to do the opposite. Once again, the Bush administration is considering attacking a country for the acts of individuals or groups who may not be working directly on behalf of that country. Somehow the U.S. thinks that countries like Iran can control everything that happens on its border, when the U.S. has absolutely no control of its own borders.

Big Holes in the Bush Administration Plan

The Bush administration plan has big holes. When I listened to the Bush speech, I was hoping for (but not expecting) signs of a fundamental shift in the Iraq policy. However, what I heard was not too impressive. This does not appear to be a “new” plan at all. This looks more like an adjustment in tactics, within the same basic strategy that has been in place for the last 4 years. Now they are calling the “new” approach Clear, Hold & Build.
Clear areas of insurgents, hold (by not leaving those areas) and building on the ground gained (establishing relationships, rebuilding, etc). This means that U.S. troops will be exposed to more snipers, more roadside bombs, etc. I don’t think that the American people are ready for what is coming with this approach.

I did not hear a comprehensive plan from Bush. Once again, Bush is using the military as the primary tool for dealing with a complicated problem that cannot be solved with the military alone. It makes no sense.

A brief list of the problems with the Bush speech:

1. I did not hear enough about economic solutions for Iraq. Where was the economic plan? As I mentioned in my previous comments on Iraq, something must be done about the 70-80% unemployment there. Most of the reconstruction contracts have been given out to huge Washington D.C. connected Defense contractors who have brought in workers from outside of Iraq. They have also squandered millions of dollars that were intended for reconstruction.

2. I did not hear anything about doubling or tripling the number of Iraqis being trained for the military and police service.

3. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki & the Bush administration have both claimed that the militias in Iraq will be disarmed-- ALL of them. So does that include Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia- the powerful 50,000 strong Mahdi Army? Will the Shi’ite led Iraqi government be able to stand up against their own comrades who follow al-Sadr? Up to this point, Prime Minister al-Maliki has been afraid to stand up against this militia. Most of the focus has been on the Sunnis. Now all of a sudden we are supposed to believe that he will disarm them?

The Mahdi Army will never disarm in my opinion. I see no logical situation that would lead them to give up their weapons. The source of al-Sadr’s power is his armed militia, so why would he give up his source of power? If he did give it up (and it is highly unlikely that this would happen) it would have to be through some sort of political negotiation. The siege of Fallujah was the last time the U.S. faced al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in major combat. The U.S. walked away from that with a bloody nose and a bruised ego. That battle created several hundred U.S. casualties (dead and wounded). Just imagine Fallujah on a grand scale. That would be what the U.S. will face in another battle with the Mahdi Army. It will be a blood bath if Sadr’s forces decide to fight.

4. The Iraq Study Group recommendations were not followed.

5. I heard nothing about political and diplomatic solutions.

-- Like the gambling addict that doesn't know when to stop.... Bush has gone through all of his capital....he has lost his cash, cleaned out his bank account, has lost his house, cars, his watch, and his suit. Now he is down to his underwear. He wants to try one last hand.... he thinks he can recover everything that he has lost. He's desperate. His wedding ring and gold filling is all he has left.

In reality.... it is as if he is putting up this great country as collateral. He's gambling and using us in his last hand. Other people at the table were trying to tell him earlier in the game to step away from the poker table.... but he was stubborn. That was before he lost his money, watch, and his nice suit. Even people in his own camp were saying...Mr. President.... "You gotta know when to fold em" Kenny Rogers would say. But still, he remained defiant.

Now here we are. Bush, the gambling addict, has offered up the deed to the country... the country that all of our collective sweat and blood went into building.

Will the plan succeed? I'm "hopeful but not optimistic" as one of my teachers Cornel West likes to say.

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