1 through 36, zero and double zero.
A few days ago "Reader I Am
" at Done With Mirrors, cueing off this post at Caucus Cooler
, asked why the Right wasn't discussing options for Iraq.
As the 2008 Presidential campaign has kicked into high gear we've noticed a gaping void in the GOP's Presidential conversation. While Iraq is clearly the issue of the day in the mainstream media, and certainly the issue that will most clearly define the rest of the Bush presidency as well as the next administration, the GOP 2008 portion of the blogosphere has been very quiet on the issue.
I can't speak to why insiders and activists aren't demanding discussion; maybe they're too divided on the topic themselves, or are worried about bringing internal dissent into the open, or think the issue is a loser--or at least too radioactive--for Republican candidates right now. It's a good question, though.
It is a good question. But the answer is simple. The Right has spent almost four years denying what Mr. Bush is apparently now willing to state:
that we didn't have enough men in the initial occupation force. And because of numerous mistakes, beginning but not ending with the Rumsfeld fantasy of easy-bake war, we are not winning but losing in Iraq.
WASHINGTON - President Bush will tell the nation Wednesday night he will send more than 21,500 additional American forces to Iraq, acknowledging that it was a mistake earlier not to have more American and Iraqi troops fighting the war.
What can the Right say at this point that won't involve admitting that they have not only been wrong, but loudly, repeatedly, irrationally and abusively wrong from the start?
They were wrong in 2003.
They were wrong in 2004.
They were wrong in 2005.
They were wrong in 2006.
The Rightosphere has spent four years denouncing as impatience or stupidity or treason exactly what Mr. Bush is now touting as fact. So, either the Right has to admit that it has been wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong, or else assert that Mr. Bush is wrong now. It's tough work for a bunch of guys who've not only been wrong '03, wrong '04, wrong '05 and wrong '06, but have been contemptuously, angrily, viciously wrong and wrong and wrong and wrong.
But as hard as it is for the Right to admit that they were wrong, it's even harder I suspect for them to swallow the fact that Mr. Bush has been precisely what I have called him for four years: incompetent. In other words, not only have the Old Testament prophets of the Rightosphere been entirely wrong about the war, they've been wrong about Mr. Bush, and on that personnel issue the weenie Lefties have been right.
Mr. Bush is exactly what his harshest critics have said he was: stupid, narrow, stubborn, superstitious, insecure and incomptent. It has taken him four years to figure out what anyone with open eyes has been able to see: Rummy was wrong and Shinseki was right.
Folks occasionally draw comparisons between criticism of Mr. Lincoln and criticism of Mr. Bush. Sadly, no: Mr. Lincoln understood his war from the start and had trouble getting his generals to see it as clearly. Mr. Bush has seen nothing clearly and with the assistance of this country's worst Secretary of Defense, has shoved his idiot views down the throats of professional soldiers and made this must-win war almost un-winnable.
All that having been said, I'm going to surprise you a bit by demurring from the automatic and almost universal denunciations of the so-called surge.
I want to preface this by pointing out that in roulette you have a one-in-38 chance of hitting on a specific number, which are pretty lousy odds and yet better than the odds of us prevailing in any meaningful sense in Iraq.
However. . .
The idea is not entirely crazy. In theory
17,500 GI's added to a sufficient number of Iraqis -- assuming the Iraqi units are loyal to the government and not to al Sadr, assuming that the Maliki government is willing to see us go after its chief political supporter, assuming that we can maintain our additional force and the Iraqis theirs for a reasonable time (deep breath) -- could secure portions of Baghdad and then expand outward over time.
In theory. With lots of assumptions. (More than those I listed.) And always bearing in mind that the end result will be a shaky peace that lets us achieve a face-saving exit, not a Vermont on the Euphrates. Possible. Not entirely mad.
Am I betting on it? Of course not, I'm not an imbecile. I'm just saying that 1) "Clear, hold and build" is a rational strategy, 2) Baghdad would be the place to start, and 3) If you could pacify Baghdad it is just possible that said pacification could be extended outward.
Now. What do I actually expect?
I expect we'll find that Maliki's been lying, that he hasn't the capacity or will to turn against Al Sadr, (or SCIRI,) and hopes to use GI's to knock off Sunnis and thus do the Sadrist's dirty work for them.
I expect this will be apparent to the Sunni who will, like sensible guerillas, pull back from Baghdad for a while and give us the illusion of victory. The ethnic cleansing of Baghdad will continue apace and the city will be all-but Sunni-free a year from now.
I expect we'll scamper away while declaring victory, the Sadrists will have won, Sharia law will be imposed, Iran will be empowered, the Sunnis and the Shiites will get back to murdering each other, and the next poor dumb bastard we elect president will be stuck cleaning up the mess.
I expect the Rightosphere to try and spin all that as a case of bold Mr. Bush sticking to his guns, and a victory that was just . . . within . . . grasp . . . when President Hillary went and spoiled it all by refusing to re-invade Iraq in 2009 and make good Mr. Bush's near-triumph. After all, they're now pitching the bullshit that Vietnam was just . . . about . . . to topple into the win column. (With enough distance and a good scapegoat and you can believe anything.)
And that's not the really grim scenario. I've got some really grim scenarios but I'm straining for optimism here.
Anyway, that's what I expect to happen. But then, occasionally one puts a chip down on the roulette table and it hits. So maybe I'll be wrong. It happens. And unlike the self-annointed Old Testament prophets of the Rightosphere, if it does happen, I'll write about it.