The New York Times says Bush "needs to get out more":
Americans have been clamoring for believable goals in Iraq, but Mr. Bush stuck to his notion of staying until "total victory." His strategy document defines that as an Iraq that "has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency"; is "peaceful, united, stable, democratic and secure"; and is a partner in the war on terror, an integral part of the international community, and "an engine for regional economic growth and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region."Meanwhile at WaPo, William Arkin questions a few of Bush's central assumptions:
That may be the most grandiose set of ambitions for the region since the vision of Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar...
Look, it is the President who insists on labeling Iraq as "the central front in the global war on terror," as "an essential element in the long war against the ideology that breeds international terrorism." He says that "the fate of the greater Middle East -- which will have a profound and lasting impact on American security -- hangs in the balance." I don't buy either of these assumptions, but if the administration is serious in its rhetoric, isn't it strange that they are now saying that they are willing to leave Iraq before the insurgency is "defeated," that they are willing to entrust the security of THE UNITED STATES to a brand new, unknown, unproven, untested Iraqi military and police force?There is a tradition among Arab tribes, as I understand it, for fighters to swap from one side to another fairly easily, depending on which way the political winds blow. I would not be at all surprised if Iraqi insurgents see off the US forces, then throw out the terrorists, along with whatever is left of the unwanted US influence, then join up with current members of the Coalition security forces, and then do a fairly good job of creating a new, stable and independent Iraq. Still a rather messy society, definitely alien to most US tourists, with lots of Third World problems, but recognisably stable and independent nevertheless.
Perhaps, perhaps, the 9/11 nightmare is fading, perhaps we are coming to our senses in recognizing that the "war" on terrorism is not the Cold War, when indeed our survival hung in the balance, that it is not World War II, when indeed a military enemy had the capacity to defeat us. Maybe, maybe, the administration is getting the message that the American people don't have their heart in a 50 year clash of civilizations, that there is another way to pursue terrorism.
So, here is the Strategy for Victory in a nutshell: We will leave. We no longer hope to "defeat" the insurgency. We recognize that Iraq is a messy place and that its elected government and its "national" military and police force is filled with sectarian and religious divisions. We see clearly now that Iraqi society is awash with guns and prone to violence and Iraq probably does not have a future that looks anything like Pleasantville.
That does not sound like an impossible future to me. So why don't we stop patronising these people and give them a chance to achieve it?
UPDATE: Here's a funny complaint from some loony wingnuts: Why won't the media report what President Bush actually SAYS? Been there, lady, done that. Didn't work, did it? Remember the WMDs?