Bush’s “Victory in Iraq” Strategy (or “Look, If We Built This Giant Wooden Badger….”)

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

I haven’t read it (things are crazy here), but Matt Yglesius has.  It sounds like what I expected: a laundry list of ideal goals, but not an actual plan on how to achieve them.  Here’s Matt:

[I]t’s plain that there’s no actual strategy here. The document calls for "building democratic institutions" and eventually "providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region." But the administration has no idea how to do that stuff. The government is corrupt, the security services, when not totally ineffective, are highly politicized and rather brutal, and there’s simply no consensus in Iraq about the basic legitimacy of the state. I don’t blame the White House for not devising a ten point plan to resolve those problems — they simply can’t be resolved — but I do blame them, a lot, for their determination to waste more blood and treasure in a situation where they’re hopelessly adrift. The "longer term" goals, meanwhile, are just idiotic:

An Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country.

An Iraq that is a partner in the global war on terror and the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, integrated into the international community, an engine for regional economic growth, and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region.

That would be nice, I guess, but Iraq can’t both be a sovereign country and have its long-term policies determined in Washington. What if Iraq doesn’t want to be a partner in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction? How is Iraq supposed to be united if Iraq’s Kurdish population doesn’t want it to be united? How are we supposed to force Iraq’s rulers to govern the country "justly?" And most of all, what about having 100,000+ soldiers and Marines running around the country hunting down bands of insurgent fighters is supposed to achieve any of this?

Of course, in my humble opinion, we should have had a national strategy for Iraq before the butcher’s bill was 2,110 dead American soldiers.

FURTHER THOUGHTS:  My problem with the Bush speech, as well as the message being pushed by war supports, is that it cuts against itself.  We are asked to believe (1) that things have been going extremely well in Iraq (despite what the mainstram media is telling us) and (2) we should plan to be Iraq for quite a while (presumably because it is one hell of a mess).  It has been close to two years since the fall of Saddam’s regime, so it seems that one of these two themes lacks inherent truthfulness.

UPDATE:  Think Progress has an analysis.  The bottom line: The document is a PR push, and says nothing new.  The strategy, apparently, is to "stay the course because it’s wicked important that we stay the course."

UPDATE:  Billmon snarks that the strategy for Iraq apparently involves the use of many many many bullet points.  A quick glance at the document shows that he’s right.

UPDATE:  Tbogg (from whom I shamelessly stole this blog’s subtitle), gives a list of ALL the many many times in the past when Bush gave a major address on Iraq strategy.  And even the boys at Powerline agree the strategy contains nothing new.  AP adds: "“Bush’s speech did not break new ground or present a new strategy.”