During last night's State of the Union address, sandwiched somewhere in between a new-found concern for the uninsured and the "subway savior", George W. Bush said:
We're carrying out a new strategy in Iraq -- a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission.
And just as he had two weeks ago when he laid out his new way forward, Bush claimed that the situation in Iraq had been progressing nicely until the February, 2006, bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra, that things began to go downhill from there and because of that, we now need to implement his new strategy for victory. A plan dependent on the Maliki government taking control of the militias, and of course, more U.S. troops.
Ignoring that from the time the mission was accomplished and until the Golden Mosque was bombed, 2141 U.S. servicemen and women and untold tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians had already been killed, let's look at the words of George Bush since that bombing.
And they blew up the mosque. And there was some awful violence, some reprisals taking place. And I can understand people saying, man, it's all going to -- it's not working out. But the security forces did a pretty good job of keeping people apart.
In other words, it was a test. It was a test for the security forces, and it was a test for the Iraqi government. The way I like to put it is they looked into the abyss as to whether or not they want a civil war or not, and chose not to.
And so one month after the bombing, we learned that Iraq had stepped back from the abyss of civil war and that:
We're pursuing a clear strategy for victory.
...It's vital to the security of a free Iraq that the police are free of militia influence. And so we're working with Iraqi leaders to find and remove leaders from the national police who show evidence of loyalties to militias.
Iraqi leaders have taken some important steps forward. They have agreed to an agenda for the new government to take up once it assumes office -- including tough issues such as demobilization of the militias.
As Prime Minister Maliki...will focus on improving the security situation in Baghdad and other parts of the country...He's vowed to eliminate illegal militias and armed gangs...moved some additional troops from Kuwait into Baghdad. Conditions on the ground were such that we needed more support in Baghdad, to secure Baghdad,
The Prime Minister's plan to bring militias and other armed groups under government control is moving forward, and we talked about that plan. He understands how important it is to rein in these militias.
Coalition and Iraqi forces will secure individual neighborhoods, will ensure the existence of an Iraqi security presence in the neighborhoods, and gradually expand the security presence as Iraqi citizens help them root out those who instigate violence.
This plan will involve embedding more U.S. military police with Iraqi police units to make them more effective...he and General Casey have agreed to deploy additional American troops and Iraqi security personnel in Baghdad in the coming weeks. [...]
Recently, we also launched a major new campaign to end the security crisis in Baghdad. Side by side, Iraqi and American forces are conducting operations in the city's most violent areas...break up the death squads.
...I made it very clear to the President that it's important for the government of Iraq to continue to make very difficult decisions so that the people of Iraq see progress
Absolutely, we're winning.
And of course, two weeks after we were winning, absolutely, George Bush and the Republican Party received their thumpin' in the mid-term elections and a few days later the six week process of thinking and consulting and deciding on the new way forward began, culminating on January 10th when Bush laid out his "new" strategy. The strategy that will be accomplished because of the desire of the Iraqi government to succeed, their willingness to take on the militias, and of course, because of the additional troops that we will send in. In other words, everything that the Maliki government has been promising and that we have been doing. And yet Bush tells us:
...that's my primary concern in coming up with something different, was that it wasn't working in Baghdad, so therefore we've got to do something different.
We're still waiting for that "something different." And today as the White House and their remaining supporters explain how important it is to give this plan a chance to succeed, remember that it has been tried over and over and has failed over and over. The "new way forward" is simply 21,500 more targets in an Iraqi civil war.
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