Think Progress provides a deconstruction of the “Strategy for Victory” document.
Oliver Willis provides a summary:
Thereâ€™s really no concrete definition of victory here, still. But it seems that theyâ€™re saying we donâ€™t leave until Iraq is a full western style democracyâ€¦ with ponies. Of course, Iraq is currently a hotbed of violence with 150,000 U.S. troops holding down the fort, and shows no interest in western style democracy, preferring to enshrine religious Sharia law than anything resemble the U.S. constitution.
So when do we leave Iraq? According to this document, apparently when candy canes and unicorns take command.
John Kerry gives a rebuttal (my live transcript; quotes approximate):
This morning we saw the full power of the presidency, to have the Naval Academy serve as a backdrop for a presidential speech. Reminds you of an aircraft carrier — mission accomplished.
The troops don’t belong to Bush’s point of view. They belong to America. All of us think they are doing an extraordinary job.
This debate is not about an artificial date for withdrawal. Several times in his speech today the President set up this straw man, and knocked it down. Instead, we are talking about an estimated timetable for success.
No one suggests running in the face of car bombers or assassins. No one is talking about running in the face of a challenge. We are talking about how to succeed. What the President did not do is acknowledge the fundamental nature of the insurgency.
The insurgency will not be beaten in the face of a gun. Let me be clear; we support the elections. They are important for Iraq. The success of those elections provides a benchmark of success which allows us to withdraw some troops.
This comes to the fundamental issue the President avoided. It’s all well and good to talk about training until we are ready to leave. But this ignores what his own generals are telling him, and what Iraqis are saying. General Casey says it is the large presence of U.S. troops that feeds the insurgency.
45 percent of the Iraqi people believe it is all right to injure and kill Americans. 80 percent want us to withdraw. Elected officials say it’s time to reduce our presence. The President did not acknowledge that our presence on the ground feeds the insurgency.
None of us wants to leave a failed state in Iraq, but the strategy for exit is part of the stretegy for success.
Russ Feingold on MSNBC — The problem here is that the president put out the wrong document. It should be strategy for victory against al Qaeda. Iraq is not the be-all and end-all of our national security. This situation in Iraq is sapping our military’s strength and encouraging our enemies.
I would say that being confused about who attacked us on 9/11 is not a strategy for success. He is confused about the role Iraq plays in the fight against international terrorism.
The key question is how we get re-focused on the fight against terrorism. We need a flexible timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Bush’s policies are weakening our military and weakening America.
What needs to be fact-checked are Bush’s claims about the readiness of Iraqi security forces to operate independently of the U.S.