President Bush's speech the other night seems to have been about as convincing as Richard Nixon's statement "I'm not a crook." The way I interpret Bush's bold "new way forward" is that the U.S. will rely on the Iraqi government to provide the security it has never been able to provide. Great plan, George!
I have three key questions that Congress needs to ask, and that President Bush needs to answer, before this new plan is supported:
1. What do the Iraqi people want? I think the Iraqi people should decide whether or not they want an escalation (no Condi, it is not an "enhancement") of the U.S. occupation of their country. Iraq is, after all, a democracy, isn't it?
WPO Report dated January 13, 2007. A new poll of the Iraqi public finds that a large majority of Iraqis think the US plans to maintain bases in Iraq permanently, even if the newly elected government asks the US to leave. A large majority favors setting a timeline for the withdrawal of US forces, though this majority divides over whether the timeline should be over a period of six months or two years. Nearly half of Iraqis approve of attacks on US-led forces—including nine out of 10 Sunnis. Most Iraqis believe that many aspects of their lives will improve once the US-led forces leave, but are nonetheless uncertain that Iraqi security forces are ready to stand on their own.
CNN Report dated September 27, 2006. Seventy-one percent of Iraqis responding to a new survey favor a commitment by U.S.-led forces in Iraq to withdraw in a year.
2. How do you define "victory." President Bush and his apologists insist that the U.S. must have a victory, and that a defeat would be a disaster. But has anyone defined what a victory is, and how we'll know when we have one?
The definition of a victory should be based on achieving the goals of the invasion and occupation. Now, this has been a moving target since the beginning, but this is what I remember:
Mission 1: find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. Well, we looked, and there weren't any, so that mission was accomplished, and that equals victory.
Mission 2 (stated when Mission 1 didn't pan out): depose the evil dictator Saddam Hussein. He was deposed, he was tried, he was hanged. Mission accomplished, and that's a victory.
Mission 3: create a democratic government in Iraq. Well, the Iraqi's wrote a constitution, they had democratic elections, they have a democratically elected government. Mission accomplished, another victory (wow, three for three!!).
So what's the problem here? Come on guys, if fact isn't good enough, certainly Carl Rove can spin it so everyone is convinced that victory is ours!
And by the way, Bush's rhetoric about "winning the war on terror" is a red herring in this conversation. If he wanted to win the so called "war on terror" he should not have established the world's largest terrorist training camp - Iraq - in the first place. Show me the analysis that says Iraq is the key to world terrorism. This is more of the Bush-Cheney scare tactics.
3. What's the price tag for this "surge?" Why would any American buy an expanded occupation in Iraq without first knowing the cost? The Iraq War is not a budget item in The Decider's budget - I have no idea how it's paid for (but I bet my grandkids will find out). A government agency recently published their calculation that this misadventure is costing two billion dollars per week ($2,000,000,000). That's one hundred four billion dollars per year ($104,000,000,000). Who approved that kind of expenditure? Congress needs to get ahold of the purse strings and cut of this irresponsible little boy's allowance, unless he can really justify why American taxpayer money should be spent like this. Talk about fiscal irresponsibility!
So, let's review: the Iraqi people don't seem to want us there, victory has already been achieved at least three times, and this occupation is costing us a fortune, using money that could be doing a lot of good right here at home. And the President wants us to commit more troops (with many more injuries and deaths), many more billions of dollars, and further destroy the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world.
I would say it's a no brainer.