Every once in a while, you read one of those quotes that makes you wonder “Does he have any earthly idea what he just said?” If you listen very closely, you can hear Jon Stewart saying “Whuuuuuu?” already.
"It didn't make any sense to impose the will of politicians over the recommendations of our military commanders in the field." says President George W. Bush, the guy who has never found a commander in the field that he was willing to listen to. The guy who fired General Jay Garner. The guy who forced Anthony Zinni and Eric Shinseki into retirement. The president who keeps going through generals until he finds one who agrees with him (A difficult thing, since George W. Bush knows as much about reality on the ground in wartime as I know about supercolliding superconductors) listens to no one unless he finds someone delusional enough to say “Things are going great”, “We’re going to win”, and “I believe it’s perfectly ethical for your friends to profiteer off of the war effort. Do any of your donors make coffins and body bags?”.
Last night, he vetoed legislating an end to the fiasco he started. A fiasco that, according to him, was a “Mission Accomplished” four years ago. He announced it with a very flashy costume party aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (It’s long been a theory of mine that rightwing pundits compare him to Abraham Lincoln only so a Google search on “Bush + Abraham Lincoln” didn’t turn up a picture of him under the “Mission Accomplished” banner).
He keeps telling us there will be “chaos” if we set a timetable for withdrawal. As opposed to the orderly state of affairs in Iraq today, one would assume. Last month was the sixth deadliest month for American soldiers since the war began 50 months ago. 104 American soldiers lost their lives, as did twelve British soldiers, one other Coalition soldier, and a bare minimum of 1700 Iraqi civilians. So yes, we must PREVENT “chaos”.
Setting timelines is the only way to end this. The Iraqi government and their nascent military will never step up to the plate unless we put them in the batting order. And that simply does not happen as long as we’re willing to fight their civil war for them.
So this is not about producing a healthy Iraq--- That ship sailed. We can build a strong nation out of this rubble about as easily as we can bring back the people that have been killed there. It’s not about destroying al Qaeda--- Our involvement in Iraq has had much the same effect on al Qaeda throughout the Middle East that Alan Pinkerton’s efforts to kill Jesse James had--- Turned an organization of murdering terrorists into folk heroes. This war could not have helped al Qaeda more if the White House Communications Department was designing their recruiting campaigns (Which, judging by their bottomless well of recruits, seems to be more effective than our own recruiting campaigns).
We can have an unstable Iraq where Sunni and Shia kill one another with our soldiers in the middle, bogged down so heavily that we can’t respond to another crisis, or we can have Sunni and Shia kill one another without us in the middle, freeing up manpower and resources to deal with the next crisis.
This choice is a difficult one only if you’re a president that is trying to make sure that the stench of failure lands on the next guy instead of yourself.