Finding the CliffSpork caught this interesting piece from the Washington Post:
Bush sought to pre-empt the growing clamor to draft plans to withdraw the more than 140,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, most notably by a high-level commission headed by former Secretary of State James C. Baker III and former Indiana Rep. Lee H. Hamilton. Although he was not asked directly about the panel's recommendations, which will be made next week but were partially leaked to news reporters late Wednesday, Bush seemed to have the group in mind when he said,President Bush has precluded any discussion from changing strategies, and looking at ways to extricate our country from the mess that we have created. The liberal hope that the Iraq Survey Group would be able to create a patina of political cover for President Bush to change course without having to admit that he is changing course has been dashed. The New York Times is reporting that the ISG/Baker-Hamilton Commission will be issuing a mushy plan that prays for unicorns to intervene.
"This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever." [my emphasis]
Bush has a track record of changing policies on a dime, such as when he ousted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld only days after saying he would stay until the end of his term. But his comments today, coupled with other statements in the past few days, seemed to set firm lines on Iraq beyond which the president will not be pushed, despite growing discontent with his policy at home.
It is a compromise between distinct paths that the group has debated since March, avoiding a specific timetable, which has been opposed by Mr. Bush, but making it clear that the American troop commitment should not be open-ended. The recommendations of the group, formed at the request of members of Congress, are nonbinding. (h/t Moderate Voice)The ISG is advocating more of the same. A vague premise that eventually the United States will withdraw from Iraq as soon as Prime Minister Maliki can command an army that is loyal to his government and the concept of a unified, peaceful, (quasi-)democratic Iraq that is capable of crushing the Sunni Arab insurgency, subvert or defeat the Mahdi Army and sideline the Badr Brigades while also integrating the Kurdish Peshmerga into the force. And tomorrow I will be able to win the Boston Marathon. Both scenarios are fantasies that ignore reality. There are no timetables, no sets of conditions that need to be achieved for future decision pathways to be defined, nothing beyond handwaving and prayer that somehow things improve.
And President Bush even refuses this premise. Instead he is going all in, despite the fact that his pile of chips or deployable brigades is almost entirely on the table right now. Col. Pat Lang notes that there are no combat ready and rested brigades available. Additional authorized endstrength increases through either dropping recruiting standards further, increasing retention bonuses or engaging in a draft will not produce useable units for at least eighteen to twenty four months from the moment the first new additional soldier is recruited. We are locked on course for the cliff, and the brake lines have been intentionally cut.
Recently, Sen. John Warner (R-VA) [h/t Carpetbagger Report] made a statement that would have brought condemenation of defeatism and Saddam loving from the knuckle draggers if a Democrat had said the same thing six months ago:
“‘Stay the course’ is gone. We’re going to try and devise some new strategies, hopefully with the President’s concurrence...Our soldiers, sailors and airmen should not be in there, risking their lives, losing their lives to stop a Civil War."
The cliff is coming up fast, and it is not hidden from sight. Stay the course, or the do-nothingism of the ISG will lead to a greater fiasco than seeking a change. Smart politicians, those creatures who fear getting ahead of the herd, are stating the obvious that Iraq is a failure for the United States and it is time for a change. Unfortunarely we have a dry drunk in charge who is still waiting for Daddy's Money Men to bail him out.