But Baby, I can change!
Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror — and our safety here at home.
"Safety at home" is a multi-faceted issue just brimming with nuance, which George W., of course, doesn't do. But "the direction of the global war on terror"--we're returning to the old brand name I guess--has already been determined by the profligate spending, miserable results, and demonstration of our relative powerlessness that is the last four years in Iraq.
When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together — and that as we trained Iraqi security forces, we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.
But in 2006, the opposite happened.
And in 2006 I don't recall you admitting a word of it. Or were you waiting for the year-end report?
The violence in Iraq — particularly in Baghdad — overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al-Qaida terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause.
This is, of course, another Bush administration attempt to put an acceptable public face on an ugly idea--this time, making the Sunni the enemy since they're numerically weakest, something that's been floating around on the Right for a couple of months. It's going to be interesting to see how we wipe out the Sunni insurgency, make Anbar Province Public Enemy #2, and rally the Saudis to our side while suppressing Iranian power in the region.
The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people — and it is unacceptable to me.
Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.
I can't believe that line was vetted. Not that I don't believe George W. Bush and his handlers are capable of saying anything at all if it serves some temporal need; I just can't believe they'd consciously echo that "I can't think of any" bit. Did they think that the admission (sure, he weasels, but whaddya expect?) would convince us this is Bush 2.0? Say it again: these guys spent 25 years talking to themselves. They only know how to convince toadies.
The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions.
Somewhere along the line the American people are going to have to learn that everyone officially designated The Enemy does not think exactly like us but do precisely the opposite just to bedevil us.
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents.
And there aren't going to be when there's 20,000 more, or 50,000 more, or 100,000, no matter how many virtual Iraqis we imagine to go with them.
And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.
Uh-huh. Blowing up the innocent, the time-honored way to convince people you're on their side.
Let me explain the main elements of this effort: The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort — along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations — conducting patrols, setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.
'Cause nothin' gains your trust like the police pounding on your door. I'm not sure how they're supposed to come up with 18 Iraqi brigades, or when, but I am sure that had we taken this sort of approach on our own four years ago it might have prevented the rise of the insurgency. Too late now.
So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence — and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I have committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq.
And why 20,000? Brain-trust sessions with the Joint Chiefs? Advanced super-computer simulations at the War College? Nope. It's because that's all we can muster.
Our troops will have a well-defined mission
I gotta admit, that's one we haven't tried in a while.
Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents — but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we will have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared.
Not with 20,000 Americans and some Iraqi vapor battalions we won't. We had more US troops in the field in 2003-04, plus some actual allies. Why didn't we clear and hold then, many listening tonight might ask?
In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter these neighborhoods — and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.
I guess that's one of those unreasonable restrictions we're eliminating. Problem is, of course, that a) we wind up taking sides and b) we wind up running roughshod over Iraqi citizens and we find out they will make common cause of it. So again, we've decided to enforce sectarian divisions in Iraq without admitting we're doing so, in the interest of extricating ourselves from a problem we wouldn't have had if we'd have acknowledged those differences in the first place. Brought to you by New Coke™.
I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended.
Another sentence I can't believe made it though a six-week's vetting process. Since fucking when? Or, to put it another way, then who was that man who kept insisting we were there until the job was done? If the "Iraqi government" now fails us, and we leave, doesn't that turn the country over to the bad guys?
This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering.
Just like our enemies at the networks, then.
America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks. In keeping with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, we will increase the embedding of American advisers in Iraqi Army units — and partner a Coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division. We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped Army — and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq.
Ever since all the other essential U.S. security missions turned to shit. Y'know, it's interesting how often Iraq has proved to be Vietnam in reverse, and here's another: now we're advisors again. But you do not train an army by putting US officers in their midst; you train one by putting new soldiers into the existing Army structure.
We are, at any rate, about to take Americans we've been trying to protect as much as possible, Americans who are in their third, even fourth tour, and expose them to much greater risk in the name of small political gain at home. I didn't expect George W. Bush to actually do something about the mess he'd made; he long ago decided the only way out was to let it become someone else's problem. All the nonsense about Democratic control of Congress means squat: this is a steaming pile which is going to remain a stinking mess no matter what we do. What little honesty the man now displays might have made a difference three years ago, but of course that might have spoiled the reelection plans the whole thing was designed around in the first place.
It went on, of course, but I gradually withdrew one ear, even as he was telling Anbar Province to Bring It On and threatening Syria. The speech began to resemble what someone (John Simon?) once said about Japanese films: each one has a beginning, a middle, a six ends. But I did perk up again near the fourth or fifth end:
Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship.
Right. This one'll be on an aircraft carrier, and it'll come at the beginning instead of the end. Who vetted this thing?