Completing today’s war trilogy is this excellent commentary…
Bush’s non-exit exit strategy
Not only is the “surge” not working, it’s destabilizing Iraq. Yet military leaders say troops should stay for the long term.
By Joe Conason
Aug. 03, 2007 | To read the prepared testimony of Adm. Mike Mullen, President Bush’s nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is to understand that the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy requires U.S. troops to remain in that country for a long time, perhaps permanently. With unusual candor, the admiral explained in answers submitted before his appearance in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that he and the president believe in the necessity of a “pragmatic, long-term commitment that will be measured in years not months.”
How many years Mullen did not say, but he did offer a suggestion in this tangle of redundancies: “We must commit to a long-term security relationship with Iraq that facilitates political reconciliation, supports development of a stable Iraq, and is directly tied to our enduring long-term interests in the region.” American forces will be there for the long term, just in case that wasn’t clear the first few times.
Mullen forthrightly admitted that there is no “purely military solution” to Iraq’s problems, and his testimony was refreshingly honest about the catastrophic errors committed by the Bush administration over the past four years, from disbanding the Iraqi army and purging all Baathists from government to the failures of war planning and diplomacy. As he noted during his live testimony, the prospects for “victory” are mixed at best because Iraq’s political leaders have made so little headway toward a political settlement among the country’s warring ethnic and religious communities.
Adm. Mullen is well respected by MUDGE‘s own military advisors, his son and daughter-in-law, both former Navy lieutenants with front line experience, and his testimony this week is a clear demonstration that at the Joint Chiefs level, politics always trumps military excellence. Think Colin Powell.
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. have led us to the point where there are only bad choices, where the only sure bet is that many, many more of our daughters and sons will die, fighting battles that everyone now understands are unwinnable in a country that will blow itself apart even if our troop strength was an order of magnitude greater.
As Conason writes:
But at this late date, as the political structures in Iraq fall, the war’s advocates cannot pretend that their strategy is working, either. The way to encourage compromise, if not reconciliation, among the Iraqis is to place our withdrawal on the negotiating table — and to warn those we have brought to power that we are leaving, sooner rather than later, and that their only hope for stability is to dither no longer. That was the essential recommendation of the Iraq Study Group, and it is still the only plausible exit strategy.
Plausible, of course. But if there’s one sure fact that emerges from six years of war, it’s that logic will never budge this administration. Only the next election, or given a gutsier Congress, impeachment.
January 20, 2009 can’t come soon enough.
It’s it for now. Thanks,