Saturday, June 16, 2007

NYT and WaPo: Iraq Failing Both Politically and Militarily

The New York Times has the political story:
Iraq’s political leaders have failed to reach agreements on nearly every law that the Americans have demanded as benchmarks, despite heavy pressure from Congress, the White House and top military commanders. With only three months until progress reports are due in Washington, the deadlock has reached a point where many Iraqi and American officials now question whether any substantive laws will pass before the end of the year.

Kurds have blocked a vote in Parliament on a new oil law. Shiite clerics have stymied an American-backed plan for reintegrating former Baathists into government. Sunnis are demanding that a constitutional review include more power for the next president.

And even if one or two of the proposals are approved — the oil law appears the most likely, officials said — doubts are spreading about whether the current benchmarks can ever halt the cycle of violence gripping Iraq’s communities.
The Washington Post has the military:
A senior U.S. military commander said yesterday that Iraq's army must expand its rolls by at least 20,000 more soldiers than Washington had anticipated, to help free U.S. troops from conducting daily patrols, checkpoints and other critical yet dangerous missions.

Even then, Iraq will remain incapable of taking full responsibility for its security for many years -- five years in the case of protecting its airspace -- and will require a long-term military relationship with the United States, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently led the U.S. military's training effort in Iraq.
So, Iraq is failing on both the political and military fronts. Our troops are dying and getting maimed for a government that cannot function. Period.

Of course, in April, the McClatchy Newspapers reported:
Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.

Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.
And, of course, there's been no public acknowledgement of the change...
But evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy. Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the policy shift publicly. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made no public mention of training Iraqi troops on Thursday during a visit to Iraq.
No wonder our military is now planning a long-term commitment of more than 40,000 troops!

Get it? We're not training Iraqi troops to stand up as ours stand down. There's not even a plan for our troops to stand down! A force of forty thousand will be in Iraq indefinitely! The Bush Administration is not even bothering to hide it, anymore!

Last week, the New York Times reported that:
For the first time, the Bush administration is beginning publicly to discuss basing American troops in Iraq for years, even decades to come, a subject so fraught with political landmines that officials are tiptoeing around the inevitable questions about what the United States’ long-term mission would be there.

President Bush has long talked about the need to maintain an American military presence in the region, without saying exactly where. Several visitors to the White House say that in private, he has sounded intrigued by what he calls the “Korea model,” a reference to the large American presence in South Korea for the 54 years since the armistice that ended open hostilities between North and South.

But it was not until Wednesday that Mr. Bush’s spokesman, Tony Snow, publicly reached for the Korea example in talking about Iraq — setting off an analogy war between the White House and critics who charged that the administration was again disconnected from the realities of Iraq. He said Korea was one way to think about how America’s mission could evolve into an “over-the-horizon support role,” whenever American troops are no longer patrolling the streets of Baghdad.
Korea? There's an armistice in Korea! When was the last time a shot was fired in anger between North and South Korea? It would be an almost unthinkable improvement to get to the same status as Korea! South Korea has a functioning government and a booming economy. South Korea is not in the midst of a civil war!

How much more will it take for people to realize that the Bush Administration really is batshit crazy? How much more will it take for people to realize that there's no one at the wheel? Someone has to take control! Any ideas?

According to CNN, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Democrats will again attempt to impose timetables for withdrawal from Iraq:
Reid said Democrats will use a defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2008 as a vehicle to revive two Iraq timetable amendments that they pushed unsuccessfully during a fight over Iraq funding in May.

The first, sponsored by Reid and Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, would set a goal of beginning the withdrawal of U.S. troops by April 2008, unless the Iraqi government demonstrated political and security progress. However, President Bush would have the power to waive that requirement.

The second, sponsored by Reid and Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, would go further and cut off funding for the Iraq war by next April, without giving the president any flexibility to extend the mission.
Reid says the Democrats plan to hold the Republicans' feet to the fire. That's a good thing. A better thing would be to hold to the fire the feet of the Blue Dogs and the other recusant Democrats. This is long past being about politics. This is about saving lives. It's about saving our military, our economy, and our national security from going off a cliff. It's time to tell the Democratic dissenters to face the one clear fact: Neither the Bush Administration nor their Republican colleagues have any plan, or even intent, to end this war! Someone has to! It's time for that someone to lead!

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