Bush Widens War, Not Just in Iraq
January 11, 2007
With his usual mix of delusions and deceptions, fantasy and fearmongering, Bush spoke to the nation on Wednesday night.
Besides outlining his hopeless military strategy for Iraq, Bush prepared the American people for an even wider war.
All he’s got is a prayer, not a credible plan, for victory. And a promise of a regional war.
Just as Richard Nixon expanded the Vietnam War in 1970 by going after so-called enemy sanctuaries and supply routes in Cambodia, Bush laid the groundwork for doing the same against Iran and Syria.
“These two regimes,” he said, are “allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks.”
He was especially belligerent toward Iran, accusing it, early on his speech, of helping form death squads in Iraq. (An oddity: On December 4 in the Oval Office Bush met with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is linked to Iran and has its own militia. “I assured him the United States supports his work,” Bush said in a joint appearance with Hakim.)
Iran, Bush said, must be prevented “from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.” In a none-too-subtle hint, he mentioned that he “recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region,” adding: “We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies.”
Bush is following the neocon agenda here, and he is applying one of Rumsfeld’s aphorisms: “If you can’t solve a problem, enlarge it.”
But if he enlarges the Iraq war to Iran or Syria, the whole region could blow. And Bush would be back on TV, talking to the American people about the urgent need for even more troops in his burgeoning war in the Muslim world.
This was the most ominous aspect of Bush’s bizarre address.
Bizarre because his military strategy won’t work.
Bizarre because his rhetoric pins U.S. troops in Iraq, regardless of whether the government in Baghdad does its share.
And bizarre because he so misreads the attitudes of people in the Middle East.
For the longest time, Bush Administration officials told the American people that our troops were in Iraq (after all the other justifications fell by the wayside) to prevent a civil war. On Wednesday night, Bush essentially said that our troops are there to police a civil war: in his words, “to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence.”
His military strategy overrelies on Iraqi forces. Bush said that Iraq will supply 18 brigades to patrol Baghdad. But U.S. troops have grown exasperated by the poor performance of the Iraqi forces, who often don’t even show up.
His military strategy assumes that 20,000 U.S. troops will do the trick, when we already have 140,000 there and have already increased the U.S. presence in Baghdad--to no avail.
His military strategy assumes that embedding troops will somehow work, though that will put those troops at great risk.
His military strategy assumes that giving the U.S. wider leeway to clear out neighborhoods in Baghdad will somehow endear the troops to the locals and bring “growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad’s residents.”
His military strategy assumes that 4,000 more U.S. troops will somehow pacify Anbar province—a huge area encompassing Fallujah and Ramadi and Tikrit all the way to the Western border, an area populated by 1,200,000 Sunnis, who overwhelmingly despise the United States.
Bush tried to put the onus on the Iraqi government. “America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced,” he said.
But how will Bush do that? The Iraq Study Group, which Bush condescended to thank for its “thoughtful recommendations,” said that if the government doesn’t meet the benchmarks, the United States should leave.
Yet Bush’s rhetoric blocks all the exits. “Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States,” he said. “For the safety of our people, America must succeed.”
If the stakes are that high, there is no way U.S. troops can come home, no matter what Maliki does.
Bush imagines that “millions of people,” including in the Palestinian Territories, “are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis?”
Somehow I doubt that the people of Palestine are rooting for Bush to win in Iraq. That, by the way, was the only mention of the Palestinians in his whole address, even though the Iraq Study Group said resolving the Israel-Palestine issue was of pivotal importance.
As he has throughout his Presidency, Bush assumed at the end that God is, as always, on America’s side. Bush has said, over and over again, that he is delivering the gift of freedom to the people of Iraq. He ended his speech Wednesday by saying, “We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours.”
That’s all he’s got—a prayer, not a credible plan, for victory. And a promise of a regional war.