So what is George Bush's problem? Why doesn't this man understand that "just hang in there" isn't a real plan and that pragmatic people find answers like that unacceptable? Oh who cares, I've got plenty of partisan GOP bashing running through my blood this week and any excuse to shame those who deserve it most is fine by me.
I suspect that any good military strategist would tell you that if you don't have a firm plan, you're probably going to get your ass handed to you on a platter. Even in the face of overwhelming superiority, you can't very well succeed when success defies definition, which I think was probably the point. If those in power refuse to define a plan to win, how can you clearly define when you've lost?
In the beginning it sounds all so simple, so very surgical and easy to accomplish. Get in, and get out. Who can argue with the beauty of that? The 3,300 dead American soldiers that have died since President Bush stood before the nation and lied to the public about why it was necessary to start a second concurrent war in the Middle East -- I believe they might have something to say about it, if they could still speak that is.
Again, going back to the very beginning, it didn't seem like that big of a deal. Iraq's military was no match for the United States during the first Gulf War, and they didn't figure to be any better off during the second round. We mowed through that country and secured an indisputable victory within a handful of weeks -- against the Iraqi military and government.
Fast forward to today and we're out there fighting in the middle of a civil war, in what is clearly a second conflict after-the-fact. So perhaps the president and his military advisers did have a plan: get in, establish a new government, and get out.
Unfortunately the fatal flaw has been revealed as the impossible task of national building, a practice that then Governor Bush spoke out against during his first campaign. The military is all wrong for nation building, something that takes a level of discipline when dealing with problems in a way that doesn't involve shooting first, shooting some more, then leaving.
Our military is exceptionally well trained and moderately well equipped, and they served their purpose faithfully and efficiently. The mistake was not pulling them out after their mission was accomplished.
Ah yes, the aircraft carrier "incident". So many things wrong with that stunt that the least talked about is the fact that the carrier was in U.S. territorial waters, only about 30 miles off the coast of California. Another rub is that such a distance is well within the range of Marine One, the presidents personal helicopter, such that there was no need to fly him in there on a jet fighter. It was pure embarrassing grandstanding.
Had the troops begun their pullout the day President Bush played movie star, 3,300 of them would still be alive today.
Though many conservatives cringe when this is brought up, an equal number of liberals need to stop dwelling on that. If you accept that Iraq is a two-conflict theater, than the first mission was accomplished and in a way that made all of us extremely proud. Though their mission was unjust, they did their jobs and we're all thankful for their dedication.
But then what? Rumsfeld and Bush thought the country would remain calm until the new government was formed and U.S. troops could begin a slow withdrawal, an assumption that I may have made in their place, but I'm not running the show and I don't think anyone would disagree that it's a good thing that I'm not.
I don't know hardly anything about the Middle East, other than that their various cultures and religions date back thousands of years and most of them don't get along very well. Had I been in their position, I'd have made damn sure I knew the consequences of shifting the balance of cultural power in Iraq before making the initial decision to go to war. Failing that, it should have been taken into consideration after the decision but during the war planning.
According to Bob Woodward, Rumsfeld was positioning the new administration for a possible confrontation with Iraq as early as after the general election but before Bush had even been sworn into office. It is said that Rumsfeld brushed off an offer of a broad "this is the state of the world" briefing from Clinton's secretary of defense William Cohen, where Rumsfeld instead opted for information in Iraq first.
With planning for this war stretching back to the days before Bush came into power, I find it stunning that the resulting plan was so completely inept. This wasn't a failure due to rushing things along, we know factually that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz had been planning this since day one.
With the first conflict over, even if you give the President and his advisers the benefit of the doubt on the civil war, the failure to plan ahead and adjust course to deal with the situation continues even to this day with the McCain Doctrine.
If the initial insurgency caught them by surprise, the proper response would be something akin to risk management. Identify the problem, identify solutions, map out contingencies if the solutions fail, make absolutely sure that the plan is as solid as you can make it, and only then do you forge ahead and implement the plan.
If Bush considers "hang tough" anything like what I just described, then the man is simply inept, and there are other failures during his administration that lead me to believe this is the case.
It's so very easy to blame the Hurricane Katrina disaster on the states, yet the Federal Emergency Management Agency exists precisely for the purpose of stepping in and managing a disaster situation when states are so overwhelmed that they cease to function.
Once this happens, the only hope people have is that FEMA can allocate emergency funds and begin managing the situation remotely in a way that states cannot. Louisiana can't order up 50,000 trailer homes at the drop of a hat, even on a warm summer day when nothing is going on, much less once a large portion of it is under water and the rest has sustained category 4 hurricane damage.
FEMA's entire point of being is to have plans, and to be able to execute them during national emergencies, but recent history has shown that most federal agencies are only as effective as the people appointed to run them. Bush has a disturbing history of rewarding political loyalty with plush executive agency appointments, and the failure to properly plan things out starts trickling down the ladder.
Michael Brown was not qualified to head FEMA, or any federal agency for that matter. And for those who would scape goat brown and blame the entire failure on him alone, I would note that Brown resigned (in lieu of being fired) long before any part of New Orleans had been drained, long before the Super Dome had been evacuated.
DHS Chief Michael Chertoff was placed in charge of FEMA after Brown resigned, and the mismanagement and lack of forethought continued to cost lives.
Bush wouldn't take the blame for that, either. When questioned, he supported an unqualified and overwhelmed Brown multiple times -- just as he did with Donald Rumsfeld right up until he rightfully fired the bum -- even when it was obvious that Bush was more interested in looking good and saying the right thing and putting on a good face for the cameras than he was helping those poor people who were counting on him to save their lives.
And the men and women fighting in Iraq today who now know we have a dunce instead of a leader, who can they look to to save them?
When will President Bush admit that he went into Iraq without a plan, and that 3,300 American soldiers are dead because his administration couldn't be bothered to stop and think about what they were doing before launching a second war of convenience while Afghanistan still needed our help?
If you don't have a plan, then you need to get one. If the plan fails, then you need to come up with a new one. If the best response Bush could come up with is to try more of the same when we already know it isn't working, at what point can you drop the politically correct "respect for the office" and call the man an idiot?
So many people have died and this war has been going down hill for so long, we aren't even debating about what led us here in the first place. Speech after speech where Bush told Americans that Saddam had WMD's, that he knew this for sure, that we needed to trust him, and that something had to be done.
Never mind that Iraq didn't have them. Never mind that there was no significant terrorist presence in the country until we got there. Never mind that experts tell us that Saddam didn't trust Al-Qaeda anymore than he trusted America.
Good intentions or not, America went into Iraq and made things so much worse than they were before. Even if Iraqi's look back 100 years from now on a peaceful hard-won democracy, it won't change the fact that we pushed it on them, that they didn't ask for it, and that they will have succeeded despite our incompetence.
If that happens at all.
Do liberals want to win the war? Frankly the question is invalid on its face, we're not at war right now. We just happen to have our entire ground force standing in between two groups who are citizens of a single country that are hell bent on killing each other. They aren't fighting us so much as we're getting in their way.
Once our troops were committed to the invasion, everyone in this country wanted them to succeed. No one has a right to question that, but that war was over within two weeks. This second conflict without a plan and without a graceful way out is what we're dealing with now.
This may be really strange, but I liken what is happening right now to trying to hold a cat that doesn't want to be held. You're bigger, stronger, and if you didn't mind enduring the pain, you could probably hold the cat against its will indefinitely. However, it's going to make you pay a price for it. It's going to hurt you, and it may just hurt you bad enough that you realize it isn't worth doing anymore.
Likewise, you cannot occupy a country against its will. It will find ways to hurt you and it will do so until you give in and leave. The history of world conquest bares this out. Our own existence as a nation is proof of this.
I didn't like Saddam but whether or not we'd rather have him still in power is irrelevant when you remember that the predication for this war wasn't that he did bad things to his people and needed to be stopped -- it was the WMD's, the one's that U.N. weapons inspectors said they couldn't find.
Of course now we know why, but would it have stopped Bush, had someone with authority and credibility stood up and said definitively that they didn't exist? No, I think he would have found another "reason".
Right now, it's all about what we can do to end this. In the fictional but wise words of Josh Lyman -- there is no way this will end well, all that's left is to end it quickly.