Desperate men do desperate things
Sometime early in the new year, President Bush will go on national television to tell a disgruntled American public what he has decided should be done to salvage “victory” from the jaws of certain defeat in the war he started.
The word on the street, or in the Pentagon rings, is that he’ll choose to beef up American forces on the ground in Iraq by 20,000 to 30,000 troops by various sleight-of-hand maneuvers — extending the combat tours of soldiers and Marines who are nearing an end to their second or third year in hell and accelerating the shipment of others into that hell — and send them into the bloody streets of Baghdad.
These additional troops are expected to restore order and calm the bombers and murderers when 9,000 Americans already in the sprawling capital couldn’t. They’re expected to do this even when Bush’s favorite (for now) Iraqi politician, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, refuses to allow them to act against his primary benefactor, the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Shiite Muslim Mahdi Army militiamen who kill both Americans and Sunni Arabs.
This hardly amounts to a “new way forward,” unless that definition includes a new path deeper into the quicksand of a tribal and religious civil war in which whatever Bush eventually decides is already inadequate and immaterial.
Did you notice that at every stop on the president’s information-gathering tour last week, there was a very familiar face looming over his shoulder? There was Vice President Dick Cheney, looking as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Should the president suddenly have an original thought or seem to be going wobbly, Cheney will be right there to squelch it or to set him straight.
It can be argued that Bush understood little about war and peace and diplomacy and honesty in government. Cheney understood all of it, and he bears much of the responsibility for what’s gone on in Washington and in Iraq for the last six years. Keep a sharp eye on him. Desperate men do desperate things.
Onward and onward until we are neck-deep in the Big Sandy…