Coming from Bush, a man known for bold strokes, the surge is a strange half-measure--too large for the political climate at home, too small to crush the insurgency in Iraq and surely three years too late. Bush has waved off a bipartisan rescue mission out of pride, stubbornness or ideology, or some combination of the three. Rather than reversing course, as all the wise elders of the Iraq Study Group advised, the Commander in Chief is betting that more troops will lead the way to what one White House official calls "victory."TIME paints a confrontation between Dubya's neocons and H.W.'s "internationalists":
Bush greeted the Baker-Hamilton proposals with the gratitude of someone who had just received a box of rotting cod. He never much liked the internationalists (although--or perhaps because--his father is a charter member). By Christmas, it was clear that he had not only rejected a staged withdrawal in the mold of Baker-Hamilton but was ready to up his bet and throw even more troops at the problem.TIME asks some good questions, like "What happens when the surge ends?"
"Are we assuming the insurgents don't get to vote on this?" asks a veteran of both the Iraqi and Vietnam wars. "I see more arrogance than ever, assuming once again that Western genius counts for more than Eastern resolve."Another good question: IS THE SURGE BUSH'S LAST STAND?
PROBABLY YES, WHETHER BUSH INTENDS IT that way or not. There is always a chance that a surge might reduce the violence, if only for a while. But given that nothing in Iraq has gone according to plan, it seems more likely that it won't...
Bush's real exit strategy in Iraq may just be to exit the presidency first.