Bush's 'New' Iraq Strategy Revealed: More Troops, More War

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US plans last big push in Iraq (Guardian)

Did anyone really imagine it would be any different? The Guardian reports that Bush has already decided on his "new" strategy for Iraq, ahead of the recommendations of the "Iraq Study Group" he appointed — and ahead of the internal government review of strategy which he ordered only this week. And what is the strategy? More of the same. How could it be otherwise? The Decider-in-Chief cannot admit, not even to himself, that any of his decisions have ever been wrong. How can they be, when they are dictated by his "gut," and his gut is guided by God Almighty?

Yet no man rises to such a position — even with the enormous, endless help of his elitist family and friends — without some animal cunning. Bush knows that he cannot do what he would have to do to "win" the war on his terms: send in hundreds of thousands of more troops in a brutal, no-holds-barred campaign to eradicate all active opposition to the imposition of a docile Iraqi regime and the permanent installation of American bases. He knows there is no political will, even among his own party and most of his "base," to take this route. (Barring, of course, another convenient terrorist attack on American soil, this time blamed on the Iraqi insurgents. Then there would be no limit to Bush’s "justifiable retaliation." This scenario, although unlikely at present, is certainly not to be discounted altogether.)

And so he is going to intensify the war as much as politically possible, push the envelope of further brutality and repression as far as he can, for as long as he can, and hope that this will finally do the trick. It won’t, of course, but as the Guardian notes, quoting a former top Bush official, "He is in a state of denial about Iraq. Nobody else is anymore. But he is." He believes that his willfully ignorant "gut feelings" — formed, of course, out of the malevolent whisperings of his handlers, especially those who most assiduously flatter his prejudices and his enormous, infantile ego — must be correct and will win through in the end.

Thus he is now planning to send at least 20,000 more troops to Iraq, to "secure Baghdad" and free up the U.S. forces currently tied down there to spread out and "pacify" the rest of the country. There will be a stab at securing "regional cooperation" for the "successful rehabilitation" of Iraq. The Saudi and Kuwaiti royal families — longtime business partners of the Bush Family — will be hit up for "reconstruction" money: more fodder for Bush-connected contractors and the bottomless corruption of the Bush-backed Iraqi government. How then will this be different from the epic of waste and corruption we have already seen in the "reconstruction" process?

As for bringing Syria and Iran to the cooperation table — the fond, wan dream of Bush’s fellow lameducker, Tony Blair — that is highly unlikely to produce any results, if it even happens at all. Bush has already rejected talking to Iran — the only outside country that could conceivably offer any realistic help at stabilizing the chaos in Iraq — until Tehran drops its nuclear power program, which he knows they won’t do.

Another part of the "new" strategy — which being drawn up by the Pentagon brass who are "advising" the Iraq Study Group — involves "reviving the national reconciliation process." How do the Bushists propose to do this? By "creating a credible political framework." But isn’t that what all the ballyhooed, purple-fingered elections were about? Haven’t we been told, over and over, that Bush has "liberated" Iraqis into a "genuine democracy"? What then can Bush change about the political framework he’s already created? Is he going to ban the Shiite parties that were empowered by his framework? Is he going to install a strongman? How will this "revive the national reconciliation process"? The only possible way to achieve any kind of national reconciliation at this point would be to bring the main insurgent groups into the government. In other words, admit that the U.S. has lost the war and must now treat with the enemy. Will Bush do that? Will the Shiite leaders and their militias accept that?

It’s obvious that all the other prongs of the "new" strategy are non-starters; they probably won’t even be attempted. So there is only one actual element to the new approach: more troops, more killing, more insurgent reprisals, more sectarian terror, more chaos, more ruin, more suffering. That is the sum total of Bush’s "strategic rethink." That is the plan.

Oh, but what about the "Iraq Study Group"? What about the "blue-ribbon, bipartisan" panel of the great and good, led by the greatest and goodest of them all, the all-wise, omnicompetent James Baker? Why, every savvy Beltway media insider knows that this dream team of wise elders will lead us out of the wilderness into the promised land of victorious peace and national unity. Unfortunately, as the Guardian story makes clear — or rather confirms what has been evident all along — the "Baker Group" is essentially just a means of shifting responsibility of Bush’s vast war crime onto others, especially the congressional Democrats, who will be expected to sign off on the group’s "bipartisan consensus. (That’s why Rumsfeld had to do; there would be no way to package the continuation of the present strategy as a "new bipartisan plan" if Rumsfeld, the lightning rod and scapegoat for the Establishment- approved war of aggression — were still in charge of it.)

The Baker Group also serves as a talking shop for the American Establishment to work out its differences over the nuances of the corporatist militarism that has been the hallmark of American policy since World War II. (See "Family Feud" for more on this.) But what the Group will not do — and is not designed to do — is to come up with some genuinely fresh, non-partisan approaches toward extricating the United States from the ungodly mess that Bush’s gut has dragged it into. As regards the specifics of Iraq policy, the Group exists merely to put some PR dressing on whatever deal is hammered out in the backroom between the Daddy wing and the Dubya wing of the Bush Faction. The Guardian notes, ominously, that the Iraq Study Group’s "recommendations are expected to be built around" the very Pentagon plans outlined above; the Pentagon is in fact working with the Baker group to devise this "victory strategy."

What’s more, these plans, still in draft form, are being firmed up in "separate, closed sessions with Mr. Baker and Vice President Dick Cheney." Here we see the negotiations of the Daddy-Dubya wings in the flesh: the Elder Bush’s chief fixer with Little Dubya’s chief malevolent whisperer. Anyone who thinks this process is going to produce some sort of breakthrough will be bitterly disappointed.

The fact is, almost all of the principals involved know that the jig is up in Iraq. They know that this last throw of the dice is almost certain to fail. How can it not, being the same strategy that has already failed so spectacularly? They know that in six months’ time, or a year, they will have to admit that this last heave-ho fell short; and then the "phased withdrawals" or some other partial, muddled disengagement will begin, or will begin to be talked about seriously. But by that point, the debacle in Iraq can be written off a bipartisan failure, a noble effort in which we all did our best but simply couldn’t prevail against intractable circumstances. (Circumstances which will no doubt include "the inherent barbarity of the Iraqi people, who simply couldn’t handle the gift of democracy we gave them." Indeed, this theme is already shopworn among the chickenhawks of the Rightwing echo chamber.)

Knowing all this, the Bushists, backed by the Establishment, will still keep dragging out the war, month after month, year after year, in one form or another. Thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis will die, hundreds if not thousands more American soldiers will die, Iraq will sink further into chaos, the United States will sink further into bankruptcy.

(The latter, of course, is a good thing for the Bushists; have they not openly stated their desire to "shrink government down until we can drown it in the bathtub?" Only bankruptcy can justify their domestic agenda of crippling even the slightest mitigation of the worst excesses of unregulated, unrestrained crony corporatism and elitist predation. Already filthy rich, the Bushists will never suffer the economic ravages and social decay produced by their policies.)

So that is the plan. This is Bush’s answer to the American people’s obvious, overwhelming desire for ending the war in Iraq. He is going to spit in America’s face. He is going to tell the American people to go to hell, or perhaps borrowing the language that Dick Cheney used in the United States Senate, to go f__k themselves. He is going to say: let your sons and daughters die, you worthless peons: I will never admit I was wrong.

Chris Floyd [send him mail] is the author of Empire Burlesque: The Secret History of the Bush Regime.

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