Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Why Bush can never win in Iraq

I found the following quote on the California Conservative blog today: "Increasingly, quitting looks like the new American Way of War. No matter how great your team, you can’t win the game if you walk off the field at half-time." The quote is from an op-ed piece in the New York Post by retired Army officer Ralph Peters.

The problem is, that "team" isn't just the military. The team has to include the people back home, who have never been on board for the war we are fighting. The American people were frightened into acquiescing to a war against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, not a war to create a democratic Iraq. The pre-war intelligence that the Bush administration presented to the Congress, to the American people, to the United Nations, and to the world, was cherry-picked, slanted, and in several cases utterly discredited before it was presented. That's called lying in most circles.

The WMDs that everyone was supposedly so certain that Saddam had stockpiled have limited shelf lives. You can't just make a chemical or biological weapon and leave it in a warehouse for years. We knew as recently as 2001 — by Colin Powell's direct statement — that Saddam had no significant WMD programs, and hadn't for some years, so any stockpiles he might have tried to build would have been utterly useless by 2003. The documents that President Bush relied upon to claim that Saddam was trying to buy uranium in Niger were known forgeries. The claim that Mohammad Atta had met with Iraqi officials was known at the time to have been completely discredited. The claims that we would be welcomed as liberators and that the oil revenues would pay for the reconstruction costs were nothing short of delusional.

In order to win a war, you have to honestly persuade your team that the war is worth fighting, and that you have a strategy for success. Bush has never even tried.

If George W. Bush wants anything other than catastrophic failure and chaos in Iraq, he has to immediately tell the American people the truth about why we are in Iraq, what our specific goals are [hint: "a free and democratic Iraq" is not a specific goal], how we are going to achieve them, how long we expect it to take, how much we expect it to cost, how many troops we expect to need, and in all other respects what sort of commitment the country will have to make. If he does that honestly and makes a solid case for his position, he just might get the "team" to stay on the "field." He'd better start soon, though.

By the way, demonizing those who point out the fact that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others have repeatedly lied about the war and the intelligence behind it, is moving away from the goal.

Two thirds of the American people believe that our invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Over 80% of the Iraqi people want the U.S. military to leave — yesterday if not sooner. It is abundantly clear that the Bush administration point-blank refuses to level with us about its plans for achieving some form of success in Iraq within a manageable timeframe and budget, substituting stock phrases like "stay the course" and "cut and run" for meaningful discourse.

The United States has never been willing to make an open-ended commitment to a war that has been so mind-numbingly mismanaged from Day One, nor should we be.