Democrats & Liberals Archives

Seven Hours In Iraq

President Bush spent seven hours in Iraq on Labor Day. He insists it wasn’t just to accumulate some shred of credibility in the coming Iraq debate, but “to see with our own eyes the multiple changes that are taking place in Anbar province.” He must have an amazing set of peepers because he never left the security of the remote airbase at which he landed.

Most people see President Bush's visit as a way to dilute fallout from a devastating GAO report on benchmarks to which he promised to hold the Iraqi government accountable. The report concludes that the Iraqi government met three benchmarks and failed to meet fifteen.

The irony factor in this story is high. For one, the benchmarks were agreed upon by President Bush and the Iraqi government last January. In fact, President Bush said at the time, "America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced." But when push came to shove, the Iraqi government went on vacation and told us to take our benchmarks and shove 'em where the sun don't shine.

Another irony is that the success President Bush touts in Anbar Province has nothing to do with the surge. President Bush surged troops to Baghdad, not Anbar.

At the end of the day we're left with the fact that the Iraqi government failed to meet fifteen of the eighteen benchmarks to which it had agreed. According to the GAO report, "Violence remains high, the number of Iraqi security forces capable of conducting independent operations has declined and militias are not disarmed."

That assessment comes on the heels of a dismal National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and another report concluding that the Iraqi national police force is so rife with Shiite militias and death squads that it should be disbanded and rebuilt from scratch.

President Bush must hold the Iraqi government responsible as he promised to do. It's time (way past time, really, since no one expected the surge to work in the first place) for a serious plan. That's the point that the GAO's David Walker made to Congress:

U.S. Comptroller David Walker said Congress should debate whether U.S. troops are there to fight al-Qaida or if their purpose is to provide security to the general population.

"They're fundamentally different things," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. "I think Congress ought to have a debate ... what are we going to do and what are going to try to accomplish?"

So what is the mission in Iraq? Is it to deny al-Qaeda a place to operate or to referee a civil war? The answer should dictate our strategy going forward in Iraq. If the mission in Iraq is to operate against al-Qaeda then we don't need 160,000 combat troops to do it. If it's to secure and stabilize the entire country, then 160,000 troops aren't nearly enough. What are we trying to achieve in Iraq?

Posted by American Pundit at September 5, 2007 2:25 AM
Comment #231816

AP- The three senators an one congressman had to
take evasive action at avoid rocket fire, or what
ever the weapons were that were fired at them over the weekend,an
still insist all is well in Iraq. I believe that
President Bush had to save face by landing in the
safest place he could find. I certainly would have
done the same thing if I were in his position. I
wounder if he still believes that his decision to
invade Iraq, was a wise choice?

Posted by: -DAVID- at September 5, 2007 4:31 AM
Comment #231817

[should be to avoid rocket fire] (@@)^

Posted by: -DAVID- at September 5, 2007 4:37 AM
Comment #231838

Bush was playing to more than one audience when he stopped in Iraq. Bush stopped in Iraq and hinted that troop withdraws might be possible in the future. He then flew on to Sidney where his good buddy is having reelection problems. Prime Minister Howard, a staunch ally of Bush is in trouble in the polls. His opponent is demanding that Australian troops be withdrawn. Howard met Bush at the airport, huggs, kisses, waves to the crowd, etc. Bush announced “his” good news about Iraq and Howard vowed to stay the course.

Posted by: jlw at September 5, 2007 12:16 PM
Comment #231839

Does this make Bush a fobbit?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 5, 2007 12:22 PM
Comment #231848


If you could popularize that, I like it better than chicken hawk, and it saves ink a paper.

AP, clearly the mission is to build a nation at this point, but the Chief Klutz in charge is not the guy to do it.

Sadly, he has created a new failed state. The purpose was to secure the oil fields in the region from Sadaam’s pointed attacks. That was the threat, not WMD.

Now with the Iraqi’s killing each other, Iran and Saudi Arabia are safe from Iraqi rockets. Keeping a new unfriendly strongman from rising up is our goal. Maybe nation destruction IS our goal. If Iraqi’s are dying by the millions they can’t raise the price of oil and do much else. Ever wonder why we aren’t allowing Iraqis in the US?

And we wonder why Bin Laden is so popular over there.

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at September 5, 2007 1:18 PM
Comment #231849

Fine article, AP. And rationally worked to the logical conclusion.

The purpose however of the trip, was to garner media attention to his “consideration” of the possibility that some troops may be removed. This is becoming a greater liklihood for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Bush’s need to appear opposite to his previous statement that we must remain in Iraq as long as he is President. That remark alone threatens his ability to keep the American blood flowing in Iraq until he can pass the war and its outcome on to a successor, and in his own mind, feel rescued from ownership for it and its inevitable outcome. The trip was a feint, to get media attention to cover his cover up of the real mission I just outlined.

If he had made the same speech from the WhiteHouse, everyone would have yawned. So, how many millions of tax payer dollars did it cost to allow Bush to speak without putting everyone to sleep?

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 5, 2007 1:21 PM
Comment #231861

Off subject a bit, but did anyone see Bill Clinton last night on the Letterman show? It was wonderful to watch and listen to someone with a grasp on reality. But more to the subject here, he was saying that “they” (assumption would be Pentagon/joint chiefs) are now cross-training Air Force and Navy personnel and enlisted for actual boots on the ground training. Our military is decimated and this effort is an attempt to provide a trained and prepared force to bolster our used up militia in the event of a catastrophe here at home.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at September 5, 2007 2:32 PM
Comment #231877


I’m more convinced than ever that Bush is seriously deluded. Maybe I should say dangerously deluded. Why so many are so willing to follow him over the cliff to nearly certain doom is mind boggling.

Something that the MSM has been absolutely derelict in reporting on is the cross border Iranian missile attacks against Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. While it’s undoubtedly true that militant Kurd factions helped initiate this, where the hell are the news reports?

The Kurds have already entered into oil deals on their own rather than wait for the impotent “central” Iraqi government, and I hardly need mention the tensions between the Kurdish north and Turkey.

Iyad Allawi has even hired Republican lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers to help “sell” the idea of what I can only imagine will be a bloodless coup to replace the Maliki government!

In Anbar province the greatest “success” was a result of Sunni opposition to AQ being greater than their opposition to the US occupation. They are fighting AQ effectively with Sunni militias, NOT US trained Iraqi forces!

The bottom line is that we have three Iraq’s now! Absolutely nothing we can do will change that ……. well, short of a million man occupation for two or three decades. It’s also damn evident that our military is stretched far too thin and besides the obvious internal Iraqi turmoil we’re teetering on the edge of a war with Iran! And just where would we stand on a war between the Kurds and Turkey?

Otherwise things are great, full steam ahead.

Posted by: KansasDem at September 5, 2007 5:20 PM
Comment #231878

From all reports, any troop drawdown by President Bush will be small and merely symbolic — until early next year when larger numbers must be withdrawn for hard logistical reasons.

Even then, I doubt Bush will drop troop levels below 100,000. Now that Rumsfeld’s gone, Bush and Congress are authorizing a larger military which means we can keep a large number of troops in Iraq indefinitely if the President chooses to do so. And I think he will. Especially after the looming British withdrawal.

BTW, as with Anbar, as soon as the Brits pulled out of Basra the city became peaceful,

Basra has been unusually calm since the British withdrew from the palace on Monday. A British army spokesman said the city was quiet. Police said there had been no killings or kidnappings. Iraqi security forces are on the streets in large numbers, and the Iraqi police and Army, who usually steer clear of each other, are manning joint checkpoints. Residents said that the only gunfire heard in the city yesterday came from Iraqi soldiers celebrating their takeover of the palace.

It’s becoming more obvious that coalition troop withdrawals equal stability — at least in the more homogenous areas.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 5, 2007 5:33 PM
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