Monday, July 09, 2007
A Questionable Claim of Iraq Course Change
This article reflects the point of view of some of the more realistic members of the administration, but does not accurately portray Bush and Cheney's operative mode of denial in dealing with the current situation.
And we all know whose opinion will carry the day. Hint: it is the Fantasists, not the Realists.
White House officials fear that the last pillars of political support among Senate Republicans for President Bush's Iraq strategy are collapsing around them, according to several administration officials and outsiders they are consulting. They say that inside the administration, debate is intensifying over whether Mr. Bush should try to prevent more defections by announcing his intention to begin a gradual withdrawal of American troops from the high-casualty neighborhoods of Baghdad and other cities.
Mr. Bush and his aides once thought they could wait to begin those discussions until after Sept. 15, when the top field commander and the new American ambassador to Baghdad are scheduled to report on the effectiveness of the troop increase that the president announced in January. But suddenly, some of Mr. Bush's aides acknowledge, it appears that forces are combining against him just as the Senate prepares this week to begin what promises to be a contentious debate on the war's future and financing.
Four more Republican senators have recently declared that they can no longer support Mr. Bush's strategy, including senior lawmakers who until now had expressed their doubts only privately. As a result, some aides are now telling Mr. Bush that if he wants to forestall more defections, it would be wiser to announce plans for a far more narrowly defined mission for American troops that would allow for a staged pullback, a strategy that he rejected in December as a prescription for defeat when it was proposed by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.
"When you count up the votes that we've lost and the votes we're likely to lose over the next few weeks, it looks pretty grim," said one senior official, who, like others involved in the discussions, would not speak on the record about internal White House deliberations.
That conclusion was echoed in interviews over the past few days by administration officials in the Pentagon, State Department and White House, as well as by outsiders who have been consulted about what the administration should do next. "Sept. 15 now looks like an end point for the debate, not a starting point," the official said. "Lots of people are concluding that the president has got to get out ahead of this train."
In a sign of the concern, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates canceled plans for a four-nation tour of Latin America this week and will stay home to attend meetings on Iraq, the Pentagon announced yesterday. ...
Officials describe the meetings as more of a running discussion than an argument. They say that no one is clinging to a stay-the-course position but that instead aides are trying to game out what might happen if the president becomes more specific about the start and the shape of what the White House is calling a "post-surge redeployment."
The views of many of the participants in that discussion were unclear, and the officials interviewed could not provide any insight into what Vice President Dick Cheney had been telling President Bush.
They described Mr. Hadley as deeply concerned that the loss of Republicans could accelerate this week, a fear shared by Mr. Rove. But they also said that Mr. Rove had warned that if Mr. Bush went too far in announcing a redeployment, the result could include a further cascade of defections — and the passage of legislation that would force a withdrawal by a specific date, a step Mr. Bush has always said he would oppose.
"Everyone's particularly worried about what happens when McCain gets back from Iraq," one official said, a reference to the latest trip to Baghdad by Senator John McCain, who has been a stalwart supporter of the "surge" strategy. Mr. McCain's travels, and his political troubles in the race for the Republican nomination for president, have fueled speculation that he may declare the Iraqi government incapable of the kind of political accommodations that the crackdown on violence was supposed to permit.
The expressed concern about the opinion of John McCain is laughable.
A more embarrassing display of preventable self-immolation than McCain's recent performance would be difficult to imagine.
Michael Jackson comes to mind.
Once someone so thoroughly discredits themselves, it becomes impossible for their next act to summon up enough interest to remain relevant.
Besides, with Bush and minions trumpeting the imminent danger of "Al Qaeda" following us back from Iraq if we leave, no one should be expecting a course change until the U.S. Army breaks down from being over-extended (now predicted for Spring 2008).
Some believe that the increasing Republican political angst over the war will result in a change of heart for the administration. Folks who think this to be the case must remind themselves of the "Unitary Executive" theory which governs decisions at the highest level.
What would ordinarily be constraints upon the office of the president -- including an impending revolt from his own party -- have been redefined into insignificance.
"In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve." --Alexis de Tocqueville