Home Alone IV

Here are a couple of articles that ought to be read together … one is today’s Dan Froomkin, who gives us an exit strategy roundup.

President Bush does have a plan for withdrawing troops in Iraq — and pretty much everyone agrees with it, the White House insisted yesterday.

It’s just that they won’t say exactly what that plan is.

The White House’s latest positioning on this issue came in response to an op-ed in The Washington Post on Saturday by Sen. Joseph R. Biden , the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, headlined “Time for An Iraq Timetable.” …

Biden still blows, btw.

The White House’s new rapid-response team quickly fired out a press release in which Scott McClellan asserted that “There is a strong consensus building in Washington in favor of President Bush’s strategy for victory in Iraq.”

In fact, McClellan insisted that Biden had just “described a plan remarkably similar to the Administration’s plan to fight and win the war on terror.”

But the White House press release neglected to even address Biden’s central point about timetables and provided no new details, not to mention a blueprint. Up until now, the president hasn’t done much more than repeat: ” As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down .”

Froomkin describes exit-plan noises coming from the State Department and the Pentagon, all of which amount to turning domestic security over to Iraqis, one way or another, in order to reduce troop levels to under 100,000 in time for the November 2006 mid-term elections. One plan involves switching to an air war, for example.

At the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh also discusses the air war plan. But this is the part I found most riveting (see especially the last paragraph):

Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding.

Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.

The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: “I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ ” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer.

“I tried to tell him,” the former senior official said. “And he couldn’t hear it.” …

… Speaking at the Osan Air Force base, in South Korea, two days after Murtha’s speech, Bush said, “The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. . . . If they’re not stopped, the terrorists will be able to advance their agenda to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, and to break our will and blackmail our government into isolation. I’m going to make you this commitment: this is not going to happen on my watch.”

“The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ” He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said. Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. “Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,” the former official said, “but Bush has no idea.”

Cheney and Bush both are living in their own fantasy lands. No good will come from this. I trimmed a lot of really juicy stuff from the Hersh article, btw, so be sure to read the whole thing.

This Wednesday Bush is scheduled to give the first of a series of speeches on Iraq in an attempt to re-market the war to the public. I’m curious if he will be able to change his language and offer something tangible, as opposed to the empty rhetoric of “victory” and “resolve.” If Bush can’t adjust his act now, he never will.

7 thoughts on “Home Alone IV

  1. Bush’s first speech is scheduled to take place at the Naval Academy…He’s still confined to an captive audience and can’t muster the courage to face the real public. I hear he intends to muddy the waters with statistics of progress presented out of context. Bush is going to try to pull off a verbal magic show like an evangelist who argues that Jesus was murdered by the Jews and at the same time he laid down his life willingly for the Jews.

    Even if Bush’s speech writers are the best that money can buy, they’ll only have bullshit to work with..and won’t be able to salvage Bush’s image of honesty and integrity.

  2. But first Bush has to save the Alamo from the hordes of brown people pouring over the border.

    Then he’ll try, patiently as always, to explain to us that as the Iraqis stand up, we’ll stand down. This strategy, remarkably, is similar to Senator Biden’s.

    I wait for the day when I hear serious talk of invoking the 25th amendment.

  3. Hersch wrote: “Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq…”

    I just wonder what does that really mean inside the head of GWB? My sense of Bush is that it means making the country safe for American oil companies, including puppet government and permanent US bases, if need be. How I wish Hersh would deconstruct this.

  4. We’ve known all along that Bush has a messiah complex. This is no surprise. What surprises me is the complete disconnect about ‘as they stand up, we’ll stand down’, meaning once the Iraqis can fight the insurgency we won’t have to. Except, if we weren’t there there wouldn’t be any isurgency. It’s a catch 22. As long as we are there we’ll have an insurgency. As long as there is an insurgency we’ll be there. We have permanent military bases under construction. We aren’t going anywhere. That was decided from the start.

  5. I’m curious about that “former senior official” who told Bush we’re not winning in Iraq. Could it be Colin Powell?:

    According to Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia and head of the independent Middle East Policy Council, Mr Bush recently asked Mr Powell for his view on the progress of the war. “We’re losing,” Mr Powell was quoted as saying. Mr Freeman said Mr Bush then asked the secretary of state to leave.

  6. Wowsah– I musta missed that part in the Bible where rigged elections in Ohio foretell the coming of the Messiah. Wonder if Bush has a geneaological chart that can trace his ancestry to the House of David? Or maybe even further? He probably thinks that “Burning” Bush was one of his relatives with a nickname. “See, see! We’re listed right there in the True and Unvarnished Word of G_d.”

    Or maybe he thinks he’s Henry V and Cheney is his Archbishop of Canterbury explaining how the French are just making up some stuff about Salique law to keep him from being the rightful King of France.

    Always comes down to the French, doesn’t it?

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