Sunday, May 27, 2007

Helena Cobban: Administration's Plan B

There is an inverse relationship between votes and body counts. With an election bearing down next year, time is running out for casualties to start dropping. Even as last week's show of political force by The Decider was playing out, plans were taking shape to do exactly what public opinion wants but with as little political scar tissue as possible.


Helena Cobban, a tireless critic of this war, points out a New York Times article spelling out how "growing political pressure is forcing the White House to turn its attention to what happens after the current troop increase runs its course. ¶The concepts call for a reduction in forces that could lower troop levels by the midst of the 2008 presidential election to roughly 100,000, from about 146,000, the latest available figure, which the military reported on May 1."

Pretty slick, huh?

Do as public opinion dictates, but get as much political mileage as possible while at the same time painting critics of the war in the darkest possible tones.

Bottom line: The COIN campaign that Petraeus now finds himself leading in Iraq is already a lost cause. The events of Diyala and Mahmoudiyah, and the thick stream of body bags now bringing dead US soldiers back to their home-towns here in the US prove that.

However, the White House is still for some reason bullheadedly insisting that we need to wait until September, when Petraeus himself can come back to Washington to give his 'report card' on the surge, before any alternative can be decided on... I guess Bush doesn't want to be the one who said, "We tried but we failed." (Anyway, why would anyone give any credence to a strategic judgment uttered by that brief part-time naval aviator/strutter... Evidently "David"-- as Bush likes to refer to Gen. Petraeus-- is being carefully groomed and prepped to come back and be the one to give the nation the "bad news" that in fact, we all know about already.)

But it certainly is interesting that even in the immediate aftermath of the (brief and evanescent) political "victory" that Bush won when he stared down the congressional Dems on the withdrawal-deadline issue last week, he and some of his key advisors were already not just continuing to plan out their 'Plan B', but also starting a strategic leaking campaign around it.
[...]
...my present conclusion-- based on the Sanger/Cloud piece, as well as on various other pieces of recent information-- is that the "majority party" inside the Bush administration now clearly seems to be preparing a policy of cut and blame, which is a version of "cut and run".

Blame Maliki, that is. Last week, we got other "leaked" information that administration insiders had decided to "leave Maliki in place", rather than continuing to mount various pressures against him. That fits in perfectly with a "cut and blame" policy. Because if the Bushites had maneuvered Maliki aside in some way-- whether with Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, or Iyad Allawi, or anyone else, then in a sense they would have been under more pressure to "own" the political outcome of that. With a weakened, ineffective, and quite possibly corrupt Maliki still in place, they don't have to "own" anything.

(In this regard, I have to say that I find the whole question of "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government, as discussed earnestly and fairly endlessly within certain Washington policy circles, to be either irrelevant or actually immoral. First of all, it is the height of imperial arrogance for US politicians to argue that the government of Iraq should be in any way accountable to them and their expectations. Secondly, it is another height of arrogance for these politicians to imagine that they know what is best for the Iraqi people... Yes, of course it would be wonderful if the Iraqi government could clean up the death squads that may well be operating within its ranks, and to find a way to include the Sunnis effectively in the governance system, and to divide the country's oil wealth in a transparent and fair manner... But why should any US politicians imagine that at this point it is appropriate to condition the reconstruction aid they give the Iraqis over the months ahead on the Iraqi government jumping through Washington-defined hoops on these issues, like a trained dog?)

"Imperial arrogance."
Wish I'd said that.
"Cut and blame." Not as poetic, but on the mark.
Both links are worth reading in full.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Hoots, it's off subject, but since I post less frequently these days, This might interest you.