Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Tinkerbell Strategy

What color, I wonder, is the sky over the land Donald Rumsfeld sees each day when he looks towards the Middle East? Obviously it's rosy pink over a peaceful desert land, full of Iraqi freedom lovers and freshly painted schools. It's a land where the violent insurgency that has wracked the land since 2003 is always in its last throes and mass executions are just a small bump on the road to democratic utopia. At least, that's the impression I get when I read stuff like this, via The Ministry of War:

So, too, today the key to success will be perseverance. In Iraq, the terrorists are obviously trying to ignite a civil war to divide that country and to demoralize the coalition that's helping them along the path towards self-government. The desire to foment civil strife was behind last month's bombing of the golden dome shrine. It has been and remains a time of testing for the Iraqi people, but the Iraqis are meeting that test thus far successfully, I would say, and defying the seeming rush to -- by some here and abroad -- to proclaim exactly what the terrorists seek, namely a civil war.

First of all, I'd love to see Rumsfeld's definition of exactly what would constitute a civil war. Further on in the press conference yesterday, he attempts mightily to dodge the question but in the end quantifies it in terms of how loyal the Iraqi defense force is to the elected government. In other words, Iraq will never be in a state of civil war, according to the Bush administration, because an Iraqi civil war would be politically damaging to Bush. For the Bush administration, as well as its supporters, reality is whatever their political narrative says it is. If they don't admit Iraq's in a state of civil war, then it isn't, facts be damned.

Personally, I think the civil war question is largely a rhetorical one anyway. To my thinking, once you have conditions on the ground that are making people ask "Is this a civil war?", well, then, it probably is. I accept that there are likely foreign elements helping stir the pot in Iraq, but fundamentally this is an armed insurgency fighting an invading force and the government it supports. That government was voted in by a majority of Iraq's citizens. That makes this a civil war, Iraqi vs. Iraqi, with the United States and Al-Qaida supporting opposite sides. The situation in Iraq has been well-documented by every major news entity around the globe and all agree on one thing: the situation is not getting any better.

So what does Rumsfeld, the architect of the war effort, think of the Iraq mess? Why, goodness gracious, it's a huge liberal media conspiracy, of course:

From what I've seen thus far, much of the reporting in the U.S. and abroad has exaggerated the situation, according to General Casey. The number of attacks on mosques, as he pointed out, had been exaggerated. The number of Iraqi deaths had been exaggerated. The behavior of the Iraqi security forces had been mischaracterized in some instances. And I guess that is to say nothing of the apparently inaccurate and harmful reports of U.S. military conduct in connection with a bus filled with passengers in Iraq.

Interestingly, all of the exaggerations seem to be on one side. It isn't as though there simply have been a series of random errors on both sides of issues. On the contrary, the steady stream of errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq.

See, the failure of the Iraqi invasion to produce a flowering, liberal democracy isn't the fault of Rumsfeld, who has managed the war effort. It's not the fault of President Bush and his staff, who lied and manipulated CIA intelligence to create a bogus cause for war. It's not even the fault of Al-Qaida, who has assuredly benefited from the U.S. destabilizing Iraq.

No sir, it is completely the fault of we liberals who just didn't clap loud enough for freedom. If only we had believed in this war with all our hearts, then the candy and flowers would have surely rained down upon our invasion force. If only our soldiers didn't have to hear each day from Rush Limbaugh, via Armed Forces Radio, about how liberals have undermined this war from the beginning and have refused to support our Commander In Chief, then they'd have the morale to assure victory. If only those damn hippy peaceniks had just...Oh, sorry, wrong war. It's frighteningly easy to confuse the two...

I see this as the end game coming at last. All the neo-conservative ideology in the world cannot force Iraq to become a peaceful democracy. In fact, the neo-conservatives running the White House and both houses of Congress have done a very poor job of supporting democracy at all, either in Iraq or right here at home. Iraq has some very tough decades ahead as it sorts through the damage done to it by Saddam Hussein's regime and the U.S. occupation.

One thing is certain, though, and that is that Bush is all but done with this war. He's lost the American people and, thus, it's time to start the political damage control. That means making sure that, just as Bush had many fabricated reasons for starting the war, he'll have just as many fabrications to assign blame for its end. At no time will it ever be the fault of the Bush White House, the neo-conservatives or the Republican party. Rumsfeld is laying the groundwork for Bush's favorite political strategy: make huge, ideologically-driven mistakes that harm both the country and the world at large and then dodge any and all accountability. Rummy's just the first line of defense against any charge of responsibility for Iraq.

The U.S. involvement in Iraq is essentially in a state of political stasis which only a change in leadership can unlock. Bush and Rumsfeld are both grossly incompetent and, given their track records, there is really no hope for a way out of the Iraq mess with these men at the helm. The Iraq war has drained our Treasury, lost us the good will of most of the world and, most tragically, cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives. All to give Bush the "Wartime President" label he so desperately wanted and the neo-conservatives the geopolitical "shake-up" they wanted. It's hard to conceive of a grander or more costly failure of policy and leadership.

The Bush Doctrine is dead and no amount of furious conservative clapping will resurrect it.

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