By Robert Dreyfuss
"Like some neo-conservative Wizard of Oz, in building expectations for the 2007 version of his "Strategy for Victory" in Iraq, US President George W Bush is promising far more than he can deliver. It is now nearly two months since he fired secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, installing Robert Gates in his place, and the White House revealed that a full-scale review of America's failed policy in Iraq was under way.
Last week, having spent months - if, in fact, the New York Times is correct that the review began late in the summer - consulting with generals, politicians, State Department and Central Intelligence Agency bureaucrats, and Pentagon planners, Bush emerged from yet another powwow to tell waiting reporters: "We've got more consultation to do until I talk to the country about the plan."
As John Lennon sang in "Revolution": "We'd all love to see the plan."
Unfortunately for Bush, most of the US public may have already checked out. By and large, Americans have given up on the war in Iraq. The November election, largely a referendum on the war, was a repudiation of the entire effort, and the vote itself was a marker along a continuing path of rapidly declining approval ratings both for Bush personally and for his handling of the war.
It's entirely possible that when Bush does present us with "the plan" next week, few will be listening. Until he makes it clear that he has returned from Planet Neo-Con by announcing concrete steps to end the war in Iraq, it's unlikely that American voters will tune in. As of January 1, every American could find at least 3,000 reasons not to believe that Bush had suddenly found a way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.....
Bush, perhaps dizzy from the oedipal frenzy created by the emergence of Daddy's best friend James Baker and his Iraq Study Group, seems all too willing to prove his manhood by the size of the surge. According to a stunning front-page piece in the New York Times last Tuesday, Bush has all but dismissed the advice of his generals, including Centcom Commander John Abizaid, and George Casey, the top US general in Iraq, because they are "more fixated on withdrawal than victory".
At a recent Pentagon session, according to General James T Conway, the commandant of the US Marine Corps, Bush told the assembled brass: "What I want to hear from you now is how we are going to win, not how we are going to leave." As a result, Abizaid and Casey are, it appears, getting the same hurry-up-and-retire treatment that swept away other generals who questioned the wisdom on Iraq transmitted from Planet Neo-Con.
That's scary, if it means that Bush - presumably on the advice of the neo-con-in-chief, Vice President Dick Cheney - has decided to launch a major push, Kagan-style, for victory in Iraq. Not that such an escalation has a chance of working, but there's no question that, in addition to bankrupting the United States, breaking the army and the marines, and unleashing all-out political warfare at home, it would kill perhaps tens of thousands more Iraqis......
....At the same time, it may also be too much to expect that the Democrats will really go to the mat to fight Bush if, Kagan-style, he orders a surge that is "long and large". Maybe they will merely posture and fulminate and threaten to ... well, hold hearings.
If so, it will be the Iraqis who end the war. It will be the Iraqis who eventually kill enough Americans to break the US political will, and it will be the Iraqis who sweep away the ruins of the Maliki government to replace it with an anti-American, anti-US-occupation government in Iraq. That is basically how the war in Vietnam ended, and it wasn't pretty."