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Friday, December 08, 2006

In Iraq, Bush Prefers Bad Ideas

Technorati tags: ; ; ; ; ; the 's report is a mix of good and bad ideas -- predictably, prefers the bad ones

You know that whole Iraq Study Group thing? Turns out President Bush isn't going to listen to the report. Not that he doesn't think it's important. He says the report's super-duper-important -- in fact, so important that he actually cracked it open.

L.A. Times:

..."A lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody," Bush said. "To show you how important this one is, I read it." A moment later he added, as if for emphasis, "This is important."

Give a gold star to George. Of course, the fact that Bush called it 'important' was exactly the same reason he often says he 'understands the american people want X', with X being something sane. The statement will soon be followed by a 'but'. Maybe not at the same podium, but eventually. This one came at the same podium -- a meeting between Bush and Tony Blair.

Agence France-Presse:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush rebuffed key recommendations from the Iraq Study Group but agreed after talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to launch a new Middle East peace push.

The embattled US president announced that Blair would soon travel to the region for talks with Israel and the Palestinians and promised "concerted efforts to advance the cause of peace."

A day after getting the heavyweight Iraq commission's stinging report, Bush kept tight conditions on any talks with Iran and Syria and refused to endorse the panel's target date of early 2008 for withdrawing most US combat troops.

"I've always said we'd like our troops out as fast as possible," he said, while insisting on the need to be "flexible and realistic" and tying any change in troop level to advice from US military commanders, as he has in the past.

So much for that then. As I asked over at my short post site, Griper News; you know what would be nice? If Bush would explain just what the hell the ISG was suppposed to be for. You don't put together a blue ribbon panel just to completely ignore findings. What did all of this political cover, potemkin think tanking, and the pretense of doing something cost us, anyway? $1.3 million -- for a report Bush has thrown in the trash.

See, here's the thing -- there are a lot of bad ideas in the ISG report. Assuming the current iraqi government will be the ultimate iraqi government is a great example. But they're better than Bush's plan, which seems to consist entirely of thinking up new catch phrases and slogans. For the Bush administration, a FUBAR war isn't a policy problem, it's a public relations problem. Ask Bush about his strategy for Iraq and he'll say something like, "To bring freedom to the iraqi people." That's not a strategy, that's an objective. And a pretty poorly defined objective, at that.

The truth is that Bush and company seriously suck at this stuff. The humanitarian group Refugees International recently issued a report showing that the refugee crisis in Iraq could soon rival Darfur. The ISG report itself shows us that Iraq is even more of a hell than the media has been telling us, giving us an example of a day when the violence was underreported by more that 1000%. This is were Bush has brought us in Iraq. And he thinks he's the guy with the good ideas.

I doubt there's anyone in Washington who isn't disappointed with the ISG's findings. They make a lot of baseless assumptions and, as Russ Feingold pointed out, "While the report has regenerated a few good ideas, it doesn't adequately put Iraq in the context of a broader national security strategy. We need an Iraq policy that is guided by our top national security priority – defeating the terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11 and its allies. We can't continue to just look at Iraq in isolation. Unless we set a serious timetable for redeploying our troops from Iraq, we will be unable to effectively address these global threats. In the end, this report is a regrettable example of 'official Washington' missing the point." Unfortunately, it looks like Bush is leaning toward the ISG's bad ideas and away from the good ones.