President Bush just announced his new policy direction for Iraq: stay the course. I understand this news may come as a shock to some people but, well, it's true. After allowing two days to pass where what the president had decided on Monday was not at all affected by what happened Tuesday and Wednesday during the Petraeus/Crocker dog and pony show to Congress, nothing changed.
Dana Perino, White House press spokesperson, appeared on TV this morning and was asked to define victory. She responded with a statement which said an Iraq which is stable enough to govern and defend itself. My what a comedown this is from George Bush's earlier definition of victory: a democratic Iraq which would be a beacon for democracy and catalyst for a domino effect of democracy throughout the Middle East.
Instead we're getting a domino effect of war and instability. Iran's influence is greatly enhanced and ours greatly diminished. Five years into this war and we're no nearer the more modest goal of a country capable of even providing essential services to its people. Food, water and electricity remain as scarce in Iraq as security.
What we have achieved in Iraq is this:
A government incapable of policing itself and rooting out war profiteering and massive corruption.
A government incapable of making substantive progress on reconciliation and cooperation.
Leaders installed under an American written constitution who are ineffective and regularly replaced.
An ineffective native army equipped and trained by us which refuses to fight for itself or defend itself.
Local populations unwilling to assist us except against a worse common enemy. Once that enemy is routed guess who they'll turn on again? Their occupying force?
Guess what this reminds me of? Yup, Vietnam. History holds that should we refuse to learn from it we are fated to repeat it. Either we're too stupid or too insane to look at Iraq, see the same mistakes we made in Vietnam and change our policy. Therefore the results are the same: defeat. Bush outlined the tragic consequences of loss in Iraq during today's speech. They speak to his massive and historic policy failures as President.
George W. Bush lost Iraq because he never had an effective plan to win. He lost the peace because he didn't have a plan to secure the peace and win the people. He's more concerned with sealing our border with Mexico than the one which is far more important: Iraq's. We are weaker for this war. Announcing that new troop deployments to Iraq will max out at twelve months is, I suspect, something our soldiers even doubt is possible. If the surge is successful, as Bush claims, why would he cease it as this policy will do? We cannot maintain the surge with twelve month troop deployments. He is inconsistent and contradicts his own policy. No wonder they fail.