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1/10/2007
BUSH SPEECH

He said all the right things. He said them in the right way. He said them with conviction. He was humble where he should have been. He was firm where he should have been. He was vague where he should have been (Iran). He was specific where he should have been (Anbar).

I largely agreed with the President’s assessment - as far is it went. Why he kept mentioning “sectarian elements” rather than militias and not mention al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army by name is a minor point but telling. What it says to me is that despite al-Maliki’s assurances, we’re still not sure what the consequences will be when we start going after Mookie’s Army. If the Mahdi Militia comes out swinging, the Iraqi army will have its hands full with no guarantee that they will actually fight them. In fact, this entire plan is dependent on an Iraqi army that has yet to prove it can do anything much at all. Deploying 18 brigades to Baghdad when the largest combat action that the Iraqi army has been involved in has been company sized engagements will test the new army to the limit.

Still, there’s no time like the present for the Iraqis to get their feet wet. Now all we have to do is hope that they’ll show up in Baghdad as ordered. Last summer when Maliki tried to deploy troops to Baghdad, many of the units mutinied and refused to serve. Let’s hope they have that little problem ironed out as well.

I would have hoped that we somehow could have engineered al-Maliki’s downfall and replaced him and his government with a much broader coalition of Sunnis, Kurds, and secular Shias. But the Grand Ayatollah Sistani nixed that idea because he feared the Shias would lose power in any arrangement that didn’t include the flaming Shia nationalist al-Sadr. This was unfortunate since the fear of absolute Shia dominance is one of the things driving the insurgency. Sharing oil revenues, which the President mentioned in his speech, is only part what has to be a sustained and serious effort by the Iraqi government to assure all factions that the Shias will not ride roughshod over everyone else. The sharing of revenues is a start. We await other moves by Maliki that will prove his statesmanship with other factions in Iraq.

So we refine our strategy in Iraq. Now what? Fewer people will die, hopefully. But the President barely touched on the consequences of this sectarian violence; the depopulation of Sunnis from the capitol as well as the mass exodus of Sunnis from the country. There are 1 million in Syria, 700,000 in Jordan, nearly 100,000 in Egypt, about 40,000 in Lebanon, and about 20,000 in Turkey. Another 50,000 have fled the Middle East all together and ended up in Europe and the US.

And since Sunnis generally made up the most skilled and most educated part of the workforce, this is a brain drain of immense proportions. What is driving these people away is the fact that, despite what the President said about Shias wanting to live in peace with the Sunnis, the fact is there is a sizable minority of Shias who don’t believe that, who either want to kill Sunnis or have them gone from Iraq.

This is the biggest challenge facing the Iraqi government and it won’t be solved by sending troops to Baghdad or even taking the guns out of the hands of the militias. This is a sickness in the Iraqi soul and only some kind of national reconciliation a la South Africa could make a start toward healing these wounds. America can’t do anything to help here either except perhaps create an atmosphere where such a process would be possible.

What Bush is proposing could lead to a limited success in Iraq; saving the Sunnis from annihilation and giving the streets back to the Iraqi government. Beyond that, any democracy that emerges from our involvement there will also be up to the Iraqi people. We’ve done just about all we can do in that regard as well.

I believe the President should get a bump in support from this. And support for the war may increase a couple of points as well. But the days of moving the American people en masse towards a belief in victory are long gone, crashed on the shoals of unfulfilled promises and the disheartening realities of the violence in Iraq. But if what the President proposes is the very best we can hope for - and I believe that it is - then perhaps it will eventually be seen by both the Iraqi and American people as having been worth the effort.

By: Rick Moran at 11:27 pm
12 Responses to “BUSH SPEECH”
  1. 1
    BUSH SPEECH at Conservative Times--Republican GOP news source. Pinged With:
    11:45 pm 

    [...] Original post by Rick Moran and software by Elliott Back [...]

  2. 2
    The Political Pit Bull Trackbacked With:
    1:04 am 

    Bush’s Address on New Policy in Iraq

    Overall, I thought it was adequate. While President Bush did take responsibility for all the mistakes that have been made in Iraq, it would have been nice to hear him expressly say that he was wrong about WMD, wrong about…

  3. 3
    Jonathan Said:
    7:18 am 

    Baghdad has a population of six million people, counter insurgency doctrine calls for a troop to population ratio of twenty troops for every one thousand civilians. Divide six million by one thousand and you get six thousand, multiply that by twenty and you get one hundred and twenty thousand troops needed for Baghdad alone.

    Iraqi troops are mostly useless, they have been thoroughly infiltrated by insurgents of one stripe or another and they cannot be depended on in a tight situation, as has already been demonstrated more than a few times. If Baghdad is to be pacified, it will be American troops that will have to do most of the heavy lifting. There are many problems with training Arab troops, you can read about those problems here if you wish.

    I note that it is the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade who will be the first into Baghdad. Paratroopers often make REALLY poor counterinsurgents. They are, by inclination and training, extremely aggressive and hard men. Just think of two incidents: Derry, January 1972 and Fallujah, April 2003.

    Common factor? Paras of one sort or another vs. civilian protestors. Not a good mix. I know that we’re hard up for boots on the ground, but the paras? Great at direct action, raids and such. Patient, slow-moving, painstaking civil-military operations? Not so good.

    General Shinseki was right when he called for several hundred thousand troops to invade and occupy Iraq, but he was over ruled by the civilian leadership and the war was done on the cheap for political reasons. The inevitable consequence of the civilian decision to invade Iraq with inadequate forces has now played out and no one has a clue what to do.

    A force of seven hundred thousand to one million troops would now be needed to bring peace and stability to Iraq. It could have been done originally with four hundred to five hundred thousand, but now that the sectarian strife has been allowed to go on for three plus years it is going to take many more than simply preventing the strife from happening in the first place.

  4. 4
    The Absurd Report Trackbacked With:
    9:11 am 

    Update: Bush’s Last Chance

    It didn’t matter what the President said abou…

  5. 5
    Blogs of War Trackbacked With:
    9:26 am 

    The President’s Plan for Iraq - Blogger’s React

    I’ll continue to update this post for a while as bloggers post their thoughts…
    Blue Crab Boulevard: Having now read the speech, which I was not able to watch for a very good reason, I really think it did a good job of describing the situati…

  6. 6
    gregdn Said:
    9:48 am 

    I’ve never liked Bush but I was impressed by his candor and willingness to take responsibility.
    Let the ’surge’ go on, but if no results are evident in six months let’s pull the plug.

  7. 7
    Right Wing News Trackbacked With:
    1:34 pm 

    The Right Side Of The Blogosphere’s Reaction To Bush’s Speech

    The support for the war in Iraq and Bush’s handling of it has been slowly but surely dropping on the…

  8. 8
    The Thunder Run Trackbacked With:
    3:52 pm 

    President Bush’s Speech - Reactions Around The Blo

    Instead of a typical Web Reconnaissance today, I decided to roam through the blogs both on the left and the right to see what the consensus was concerning President Bush’s speech last night.

  9. 9
    The Absurd Report » Update: Bush’s Last Chance Pinged With:
    4:44 pm 

    [...] More from Rightwing Nuthouse [...]

  10. 10
    LuvW Said:
    10:57 pm 

    I thought he laid the plan out wonderfully!!!

    If he says 20,000 more troops will win this, then I believe him. How knoess more about live combat than W?

    Look how many times he’s been right so far: There’s the WMD claim that turned out. There’s the Sadaam and AlQuaeda connection that is now conventional wisdom, and thank God for W, the poor Iraqis finally have a full blown functioning democracy.

  11. 11
    Jonathan Said:
    8:03 pm 

    I find it most interesting that no one here responds to factual and logical posts.

    The army’s very own training manual on counter insurgency warfare calls for one hundred and twenty thousand troops to pacify Baghdad. And yet, no one here can be bothered to respond to the point, even in the light of the fact that the total number of troops in country is going to barely more than would be needed for Baghdad alone.

  12. 12
    ipcfojpbxt Said:
    1:09 pm 

    unvckv

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