Drudge has the whole speech up on his site. (God bless Matt Drudge. Seriously. The guy just has a page with pertinent and important links and some photos, as well as two very disturbing ad boxes, and links to everywhere and anywhere, in addition to search links. And it loads easily, he’s got his bandwidth covered. It’s a great place for news– much better than the networks because he doesn’t focus on bells & whistles.)
Bush wants to increase US Military presence in Baghdad and Anbar, basically to secure “secured” locations in the capital as well as use 4,000 additional US fighters to crush the opposition in Anbar. He’s also got the Iraqi army providing some brigades to Baghdad for self-policing with US backup.
Militarily this sounds good. An additional 20,000 ground troops should make life better in Baghdad. But we also need to focus on the militias of the radical Shia clerics, such as al-Sadr, who have been a continuous thorn in our side.
Bush is also deploying another carrier group to the region to police the borders between Iran, Syria and Iraq. This adjustment in strategy is, some would say, a long time in coming. But the establishment of a democratic Iraq was never going to be a short process. I think the change in strategy will help. And I think we should let the military use all the means at its disposal to make it happen rather than hobble them with political concerns.
Bush made a veiled attack on the Democratic leadership as well, saying that he’ll meet with Congress and implement any recommendations. He knows full well that the Democrats have no ideas on the war, and that currently they are resisting the “surge” but they are not reducing troop numbers (“stay the course!”). They say they will block the funds for the surge, but without a recommendation for the change, they’re going to appear as obstructionists and defeatists, so ultimately you will see approval of the surge with language that “strongly recommends” troop withdrawl in 6-12 months.
Let’s face it, nobody in Congress wants to be painted as the person who refused to allow the President to do what he needed to do to win Iraq. And you’ll notice that Bush has taken responsibility for the war. It’s a clever declaration. If he’s refused these funds, he can say he’s responsible for the war, but not for the failure, as his strategy was rebuffed by Democrats. Democrats aren’t that stupid. They’ll buy into the surge “reluctantly”. They’ll make deals where those planning on running for President in 2008 can vote against the surge, while those not running can vote for it and cover their respective posteriors.
And even in the darkest places of Iraq, people who at first decried the Americans as occupiers now see them as friendlies. More and more Iraqis are coming to this realization, and they will come around, as many are, and we see that in Anbar province.
It’s been a rough ride with Iraq so far, but the storm is passing. Let’s make sure we give Iraq the support they need to get their country back on its feet.