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Bush’s Dwindling Options in Iraq

Mission Accomplished

Photo posted by Apostropher

TRex’s Late Nite post reminds us today is the four year anniversary of Mission Accomplished Day, one of several milestones the Administration wanted us to celebrate, along with Iraqi Sovereignty Moment, Elections Day, Strategy For Victory Month, Stay the Course Remembrance Year and Surge Forever. But the only positive thing the neocons’ catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq may still accomplish is the complete disgrace and possible downfall of the Bush/Cheney regime, along with the entire cast of neocon zealots who continue to insist that someone else lost the war they couldn’t wait to start and can’t wait to escalate further. Dick Cheney and his neocon minions want all options on the table and “regime change,” and they just might get it in Washington D.C.

The politics are moving very fast in Washington — Republican’s are threatening to turn against the war by September — though that is not nearly fast enough for US troops in Iraq. At least 104 of our soldiers lost their lives there in April, while the toll on Iraqis was much higher. I wonder how the Republicans who continue to back their failed, incompetent President and his dishonest Vice President must feel as they watch the casualty figures; what do they think could happen by September that could possibly justify the hundreds of lives that will be lost by then, when they finally ask their Commander in Chief for accountability?

When even David Broder agrees the war is unwinnable, it’s time to stop risking our troops and get out as gracefully as possible — and ungracefully if not. In a post last evening, Phoenix Woman relayed General Odom’s Saturday radio address urging the President to sign the supplemental Iraq appropriation bill and accept the bill’s benchmarks, withdrawal timetables, and troop readiness conditions. But he won’t, and everyone knows it. And still they wait while more people die.

Last night, an AP story reported that President Bush is now willing to sit down with Democrats to discuss a “compromise” on the next Iraq supplemental appropriations bill — that is, the bill the Congress will presumably send him after he vetoes the one they just passed that fully funds the troops. He didn’t say how he’d compromise, and since he personally ruled out a timetable for withdrawal, which is what General Odom said was essential, we are left to wonder what Bush would give up. On Sunday, Secretary Rice, who’s having a tough time herself, appeared on ABC’s This Week and ruled out “benchmarks.”

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that President Bush will reject any attempt by Congress to require the Iraqi government to meet benchmarks as a condition for US troops remaining in Iraq, in a blow to emerging efforts to craft a compromise war-funding bill.

“What we don’t want to do . . . is to tie our own hands so that we cannot act creatively and flexibly to support the very policies in Iraq that we’re trying to enforce,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.” . . .

The president cited the need for clear benchmarks — agreed to in consultation with the Iraqi government — when he announced his troop “surge” plan earlier this year, but Rice made clear yesterday that the White House believes such benchmarks should not be made law.

“The problem is that if you try and make consequences about these benchmarks, you’re tying the hands of General [David] Petraeus and the hands of Ambassador [Ryan C.] Crocker,” Rice said.

Rice has a good reason to rule out binding benchmarks, and it has nothing to do with tieing Petraeus’ hands. She knows the Iraq “government” can’t deliver. That was made even clearer than it was by two stories Monday. In the first, the Washington Post reported that Prime Minister al Maliki’s government is upset by “nationalist” generals taking their jobs too seriously — by coming down too hard on Shiite militia, a move which caused Swopa to wonder if the Iraq government has its own Monica Goodling.

In the second story, the New York Times reported that a Sunni bloc was threatening to leave the government because it was doing too little to bring about reconciliation with Sunnis.

The largest bloc of Sunni Arabs in the Iraqi Parliament threatened to withdraw its ministers from the Shiite-dominated cabinet today in frustration over the Iraq government’s failure to deal with Sunni concerns.

President Bush stepped in to forestall the move, calling one of Iraq’s two vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni Arab, and inviting him to Washington, Mr. Hashimi’s office said in a written statement.

The bloc, known as the Iraqi Consensus Front and made up of three Sunni Arab parties, “has lost hope in rectifying the situation despite all of its sincere and serious efforts to do so,” the statement said.

If the Sunni group followed through on its threat, it would further weaken a government already damaged by the pullout two weeks ago of six cabinet ministers aligned with the renegade Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and further erode American efforts to promote reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites.

Yes, that’s our President — the one who announced over a year ago that full sovereignty had been restored to the Iraqis — calling up members of a sectarian party and personally urging them to remain in the al Maliki government of this sovereign nation.

I suppose that if you are the leader of a Sunni party in Iraq, and the President of the United States personally calls you, you’d at least take the call. But does anyone else in the White House honestly believe that George Bush has any credibility on Iraq at this point? Even Bush’s Saudi friends know that their favorite President can’t keep US troops in Iraq indefinitely, so they’re making other plans.

Meanwhile, the President’s National Security Advisor, who should be looking after things in Iraq, — after all the President and Vice President both said if we “lose” in Iraq it would be catastrophic for US security interests — is apparently too busy worring about other stuff, likely his reputation if Iraq is “lost” on his watch. So we learn in this touching NYT puff piece that the reserved Mr. Hadley is still looking for a “war czar” to do this job — or take the blame for failing. What a swell guy. You know the White House is in deep trouble when Dan Bartlett has to trot out Hadley as the only senior official who is not yet fully discredited.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley

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