Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bruce Bartlett on Dear Leader's Ill-Conceived Escalation

From behind the NYTimes Select firewall comes this from conservative writer (author of Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy) and former Reagan/Bush 41 appointee Bruce Bartlett:
I have come to the conclusion that the situation could not be any worse and that the American presence in Iraq is causing as much conflict as it is preventing. Therefore, I think we should disengage as rapidly as possible. Adding additional troops, as Bush plans to do, simply means throwing good money after bad.

Perhaps if Bush still had any credibility, I would be willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, as I did four years ago. But since then, we have learned how incredibly poor the prewar intelligence was, how Bush essentially bullied intelligence analysts into giving him the reports he wanted, and how he undertook the war with insufficient forces and without giving any thought to postwar planning or an exit strategy.

At this point, it is obvious even to Bush that the status quo is untenable, and he has put the last of his chips on the table to try to salvage something he can call a victory. But there still is no realistic plan for achieving it — or even a definition of victory in the context of Iraq. Consequently, I don’t see how this troop surge can possibly succeed. All it will do is put off the inevitable pullout by another year or more, which means that hundreds more of our fighting men and women will die in vain.

I think Bush should have the courage to do what Ronald Reagan did in Lebanon. Reagan sent American troops into that country as part of a multinational peacekeeping force in 1982. But after the situation continued to deteriorate and, in October of 1983, 241 Marines were killed when a truck loaded with explosives blew up outside their barracks, Reagan pulled out.

At the peak of the Cold War, this was a very hard thing for Reagan to do. He knew it would show weakness and undermine his position in dealing with the Soviet Union. But he realized, as Bush does not, that you cannot undo a mistake by continuing to make it. All you can do is stop making the mistake, cut your losses and move on.

[...]

It’s too late to undo the damage caused by this ill-conceived war. But at least we can stop doing more damage to Iraq and ourselves. I hope Congress finds a way to force Bush to face reality and end the Iraq operation as quickly as possible.

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