The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Old Policy: More of the Same. New Policy: LOTS more of the same.

The White House's interminable insistence that Bush is "listening" on Iraq filled me with dread, and my guess was that we'd just see the same fakeout-- Bush follows nutty right-wing policy, Bush makes conciliatory speech about how seriously he takes criticism and how carefully he weighs every option, Bush keeps plowing ahead. But with Iraq it's more serious than something like the push to eliminate Social Security. That never had a prayer, but the war in Iraq is actually happening.

The bad news, I suspect, is that high-ups beyond the White House still share that strange conviction that if we'd just been "serious" about Vietnam (58,000 dead Americans is half-assing it, apparently), we would've experienced a glorious and overwhelming victory. And damn it if they aren't going to prove it by escalating the violence.

As President Bush weighs new policy options for Iraq, strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to "double down" in the country with a substantial buildup in American troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of the Iraqi government.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff will present their assessment and recommendations to Bush at the Pentagon today. Military officials, including some advising the chiefs, have argued that an intensified effort may be the only way to get the counterinsurgency strategy right and provide a chance for victory.

The approach overlaps somewhat a course promoted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). But the Pentagon proposals add several features, including the confrontation with Sadr, a possible renewed offensive in the Sunni stronghold of Al Anbar province, a large Iraqi jobs program and a proposal for a long-term increase in the size of the military.

Such an option would appear to satisfy Bush's demand for a strategy focused on victory rather than disengagement. It would disregard key recommendations and warnings of the Iraq Study Group, however, and provide little comfort for those fearful of a long, open-ended U.S. commitment in the country. Only 12% of Americans support a troop increase, whereas 52% prefer a fixed timetable for withdrawal, a Los Angeles Times/ Bloomberg poll has found.

That's war for you-- the many march off to die for the few. It's just a shame that the United States doesn't have a better explanation than a president's vanity and decades-old animosity toward hippies.