I haven’t written anything about Iraq recently and there’s a reason for it; I’m waiting until we hear from the only guy who counts - the Commander in Chief.
Bush is set to unveil his proposals to improve the situation in Iraq on Wednesday night. I will say this; it’s about damn time. The current uptick in violence started at the beginning of last summer and by August, we had begun transferring more troops to Baghdad to deal with it.
In September, the Iraqis and our military came up with another plan to deal with the sectarian killings because the one we had drawn up in August not only wasn’t working but wasn’t being implemented thanks to the refusal of some Iraqi army units to deploy to Baghdad. Out of 3,000 troops promised to assist Americans in their “sweep, clear, and hold” operations, only 1200 had deployed. Meanwhile, the President, fearful that any change in plan would be seen as a political downer, let things simmer in Iraq as the number of deaths skyrocketed.
After the election, the idea was that the Administration would wait for the recommendations from the Iraq Study Group to change policy. Once it became clear that the ISG was not the answer (except, perhaps for Syrians and the Iranians), only then did the President initiate this in-house review - about 6 months too late in my opinion.
But better late than never. And amidst all the talk of surges and jobs programs, I have yet to hear much about the political initiatives that we need from the Iraqis that should go hand in hand with any surge in troops. For in the end, it is only at the conference table that the various factions in Iraq will find peace - not using the barrel of a gun.
So I have taken a wait and see attitude regarding what the President will do. Couple that with the track record of most major media when it comes to these leaks actually reflecting the President’s thinking rather than one faction or another playing cheerleader by publishing recommendations they want to see included, I’ll keep my powder dry and hold off on commenting until the CIC speaks.
Have I lost faith in Bush? The answer, I’m afraid, is yes. It will take a jaw dropping speech along with imaginative and realistic ideas on how to tamp down the violence for me to believe that the Administration has a clue on how to save the situation from getting even worse much less making a start toward healing Iraqi society.
I’ll have much more to say in the days and weeks following the President’s speech. I hope that we can have a civil debate on those proposals here without having the conversation degenerating into conspiracy mongering or name calling.
Somehow…I’m not optimistic about that last part.