Thursday, January 11, 2007

Surge me, Bushman? The reviews pour in

"I have never seen him, in public or private, look less convincing, less sure of himself, less cocky. With his knitted brow and stricken features, he looked, well, scared." Howard Fineman - Newsweek
David Seaton's News Links
The President of the United States (that used to have a real ring about it, didn't it?) announced his plan for victory. He laid an egg. It's easy to gloat, but this is probably the most dangerous moment in international affairs since the Cuban Missile Crisis. As I said yesterday, this man is the most empowered instrument of death in history. Genghis Khan, for example, did it all with bows and arrows; Bush really has WMDs. Bush is looking at a degree of public failure, repudiation and even universal public ridicule that perhaps no other human being has ever had to endure before. His entire life's work (being somebody) is crumbling before the eyes of every human being with access to a TV or the Internet. His reaction may very well be like some George Raft gangster in an old late night movie, "come and get me copper, you'll never take me alive!). I truly doubt that he will let himself be led away quietly. DS
The Real Disaster - Editorial - New York Times
Abstract: President Bush told Americans last night that failure in Iraq would be a disaster. The disaster is Mr. Bush’s war, and he has already failed. Last night was his chance to stop offering more fog and be honest with the nation, and he did not take it. Americans needed to hear a clear plan to extricate United States troops from the disaster that Mr. Bush created. What they got was more gauzy talk of victory in the war on terrorism and of creating a “young democracy” in Iraq. In other words, a way for this president to run out the clock and leave his mess for the next one. READ IT ALL

Mr. Bush's Strategy - Editorial - Washington Post
Abstract: The new plan for the war Mr. Bush outlined last night is very risky. It envisions new missions and dangers for U.S. troops and counts on unprecedented military and political steps by the Iraqi government. The plan is likely to cause a spike in U.S. casualties, while the chances that it will stabilize Iraq are far lower. Moreover, Mr. Bush appears prepared to embrace this approach despite strong opposition from Congress and the public -- setting up a conflict that in itself could hurt the war effort. READ IT ALL

Defiance and delusion - Editorial - The Guardian
Abstract: George Bush's announcement last night that he is going to pour more troops into Iraq was the last throw of the dice in a misconceived enterprise that has dragged his country, this country and the Middle East into a nightmare. The package includes 17,500 more combat troops for Baghdad and 4,000 more marines for Anbar province, the cockpit of the Sunni insurgency. Over $1bn will be spent in economic aid. In return the Iraqis are to promise to crackdown on insurgents, regardless of sect or religion. In opting for a troop surge, Mr Bush has ignored the message of the mid-term elections, the Iraq Study Group, Congress, his own top generals and most world opinion. US generals have difficulty enough maintaining current levels of combat-ready troops and are not convinced that more troops will make any difference. Rather than listen to them, Mr Bush has turned to the right, to those who argue that honour and the America's national interests require fighting on. One senses that "honour" is the more important of the two. READ IT ALL

"Warning Americans that 2007 would be another year of continued violence, bloodshed and American casualties, President Bush unveiled his "new way forward" on Iraq Wednesday evening. But the speech was as much a testament of failure as it was a blueprint for what to do next." Michael Duffy - Time

Poll: Most Americans Opposed to Bush's Iraq Plan - Washington Post
Abstract: A majority of Americans oppose sending additional troops to Iraq as outlined by President Bush in his nationally televised address Wednesday night, and just one-in-three Americans said the plan for more troops and a stepped up combat efforts by Iraqi forces make victory there more likely, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The findings of the survey, conducted after Bush's primetime speech, represent an initial rebuke to the White House goal of generating additional public support for the mission in Iraq. The poll found that 61 percent of Americans oppose sending more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq, with 52 percent saying they strongly oppose the plan. Just 36 percent said they back the president's new proposal.(...) Only two in five (40 percent) said the war was worth fighting. While that is slightly better than the 36 percent figure recorded in a poll a month ago, it is consistent with polls dating back almost two years. Similarly, just 34 percent said they approve of Bush's handling of the war, another slight tick up from last month but a measure of the broad disapproval of the president's leadership that has been evident since 2005. Americans are even more pessimistic than before about the state of the conflict. In the new poll, 57 percent said the United States is not winning war, the highest yet recorded. That comes after even Bush acknowledged setbacks and mistakes and after he and new Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have said they United States is not winning at this point. In December 2005, 56 percent of Americans said the United States was winning the war.(...) Fifty-six percent of men oppose the president's plan while 66 percent of women oppose it. Women also are more likely to support efforts in Congress to cut off funding, with 57 percent saying they would back Democratic moves to do so compared to 48 percent of men. Sixty percent of Americans between ages 18 and 39 support cutting off funding, compared to 51 percent of those between 40 and 59 and 43 percent of Americans over age 60. READ IT ALL

President George W. Bush's plan to boost U.S. forces in Iraq drew fire from Republican senators and from Joseph Biden, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who called it ``a tragic mistake.'' The plan is ``the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam,'' Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican of Nebraska, told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a hearing of the committee today. Bloomberg

Surge towards debacle in Iraq and MidEast - Editorial - Financial Times
Abstract: George W. Bush’s new direction in Iraq is certainly not a strategy for victory, whatever that word, which is used ever more desperately by the US president, now means. It may be one last heave. It may be a cover for US withdrawal. But two things are quite clear. Right now, Mr Bush has the support of no more than one in four Americans for this so-called surge of an extra 20,000 or so troops. Very soon, as the already indecipherable ethnic and sectarian patchwork of Iraq is pulled further and even more bloodily to pieces, he will have none. Second, this policy will not succeed in fixing an Iraq traumatised by tyranny and war and then broken by invasion and occupation. But it may end with the US “surging” into Iran – and taking the Middle East to a new level of mayhem that will spill into nearby regions and western capitals. Mr Bush’s body language in the speech bespoke a chastened man. Yet, caught in a wilfully spun web of delusion and denial, he seems still unable to comprehend the depths of the debacle he has caused in Iraq.(...) like everything they have tried since, this is far too little, much too late.(...) It is hard, even for ardent democrats, to see this Iraq as a young democracy fighting for its life, as Mr Bush’s discourse of good guys against bad guys would have it. The invasion has solidified a system divided into sects and operating on the basis of patronage and intimidation. The composition of parliament is nearly two thirds Islamist. There are no institutions.(...) The only feasible way forward is the approach of the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission – which the new US Congress should embrace and insist on.(...) “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops” he said on Wednesday. “We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria.” The Iraq surge is beginning to look like the Vietnam escalation, spilling over into Iran and Syria the way that one did into Cambodia and Laos. Mr Bush is right to argue that defeat in Iraq would be very serious. He is wrong in failing to recognise defeat is what he is staring at – and that this approach will help guarantee it. READ IT ALL

The speech reflects a profound misunderstanding of our era. America is acting like a colonial power in Iraq. But the age of colonialism is over. Waging a colonial war in the post-colonial age is self-defeating. That is the fatal flaw of Bush's policy.
Zbigniew Brzezinski - Washington Post
(To be continued)

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