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    Middle East
     Jan 6, 2007
Page 1 of 2
One last thrust in Iraq
By Robert Dreyfuss

Like some neo-conservative Wizard of Oz, in building expectations for the 2007 version of his "Strategy for Victory" in Iraq, US President George W Bush is promising far more than he can deliver. It is now nearly two months since he fired secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, installing Robert Gates in his place, and the White House revealed that a full-scale review of America's failed policy in Iraq was under way.

Last week, having spent months - if, in fact, the New York Times is correct that the review began late in the summer - consulting



with generals, politicians, State Department and Central Intelligence Agency bureaucrats, and Pentagon planners, Bush emerged from yet another powwow to tell waiting reporters: "We've got more consultation to do until I talk to the country about the plan."

As John Lennon sang in "Revolution": "We'd all love to see the plan."

Unfortunately for Bush, most of the US public may have already checked out. By and large, Americans have given up on the war in Iraq. The November election, largely a referendum on the war, was a repudiation of the entire effort, and the vote itself was a marker along a continuing path of rapidly declining approval ratings both for Bush personally and for his handling of the war.

It's entirely possible that when Bush does present us with "the plan" next week, few will be listening. Until he makes it clear that he has returned from Planet Neo-Con by announcing concrete steps to end the war in Iraq, it's unlikely that American voters will tune in. As of January 1, every American could find at least 3,000 reasons not to believe that Bush had suddenly found a way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

What's astonishing about the debate over Iraq is that the US president - or anyone else, for that matter, including the media - is paying the slightest attention to the neo-conservative strategists who got the US into this mess in the first place. Having been egregiously wrong about every single Iraqi thing for five consecutive years, by all rights the neo-cons ought to be consigned to some dusty basement exhibit hall in the American Museum of Natural History, where, like so many triceratops, their reassembled bones would stand mutely by to send a chill of fear through touring schoolchildren. Indeed, the neo-cons are the dodos of Washington, simply too dumb to know when they are extinct.

Yet here is Tom Donnelly, an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) neo-con, a co-chairman of the Project for a New American Century, telling a reporter sagely that the surge is in. "I think the debate is really coming down to: surge large. Surge small. Surge short. Surge longer. I think the smart money would say that the range of options is fairly narrow." (Donnelly, of course, forgot: surge out.) His colleague, Frederick Kagan of AEI, the chief architect of the surge theory for Iraq, has made it clear that the only kind of surge that would work is a big, fat one.

Nearly pornographic in his fondling of the surge, Kagan, another of the neo-con crew of armchair strategists and militarists, makes it clear that size does matter. "Of all the 'surge' options out there, short ones are the most dangerous," he wrote in the Washington Post last week, adding lasciviously, "The size of the surge matters as much as the length ... The only 'surge' option that makes sense is both long and large."

Ooh - that is, indeed, a manly surge. For Kagan, a man-sized surge must involve at least 30,000 more troops funneled into the killing grounds of Baghdad and al-Anbar province for at least 18 months.

Bush, perhaps dizzy from the oedipal frenzy created by the emergence of Daddy's best friend James Baker and his Iraq Study Group, seems all too willing to prove his manhood by the size of the surge. According to a stunning front-page piece in the New York Times last Tuesday, Bush has all but dismissed the advice of his generals, including Centcom Commander John Abizaid, and George Casey, the top US general in Iraq, because they are "more fixated on withdrawal than victory".

At a recent Pentagon session, according to General James T Conway, the commandant of the US Marine Corps, Bush told the assembled brass: "What I want to hear from you now is how we are going to win, not how we are going to leave." As a result, Abizaid and Casey are, it appears, getting the same hurry-up-and-retire treatment that swept away other generals who questioned the wisdom on Iraq transmitted from Planet Neo-Con.

That's scary, if it means that Bush - presumably on the advice of the neo-con-in-chief, Vice President Dick Cheney - has decided to launch a major push, Kagan-style, for victory in Iraq. Not that such an escalation has a chance of working, but there's no question that, in addition to bankrupting the United States, breaking the army and the marines, and unleashing all-out political warfare at home, it would kill perhaps tens of thousands more Iraqis.

Personally, I'm not convinced that Bush could get away with it politically. Not only is the public dead set against escalating the

Continued 1 2 


More fuel on Iraq's spreading flames (Jan 3, '07)

Saddam's life after death (Jan 3, '07)

 
 



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