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Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.

Bush has made his last major speech on Iraq.

The Iraq problem will not go away, but as predicted he will neither withdraw American troops, or increase their numbers. He can neither run or hide. He is the lamest of lame duck presidents. His strategy is to leave the problems he has created in Iraq to the next president. In a no-win situation American troop morale can be expected to decline, and the armies of the allies, with the exception of the Australians, to melt away.

The danger in this strategy for Bush is that the American forces may be repeatedly heavily hit, perhaps both in Iraq and increasingly in Afghanistan. Should this happen American public opinion will become hostile.

As was pointed out in an article in The Los Angeles Times, by Ronald Brownstein, there are significant inconsistencies in the Administration’s account of the war, beginning with the problem that the US military presence in Iraq is the problem and not the solution. But now, there is a problem of convincing public opinion that they can be withdrawn without leaving an even greater problem. Yes, indeed, why was not a political strategy employed from the beginning of the occupation?

Meanwhile, Juan Cole points out that terrorism is a military tactic of the relatively powerless and not a coherent ideology, such as communism, despite Bush’s references to the terrorists “murderous ideology”, and “hateful ideology”. Terrorism has been used by other groups. Terrorism has been created by the presence and actions of US forces in Iraq, for example in Falluja and Ramadi.

If the resistance to the occupation do have a ideology it may be nationalism for some, and religious fundamentalism for others.

Given inertia as the top of the command structure, the US military has somehow to avoid becoming caught up in a civil war, in which it might be seen as supporting the Shiites against the Sunnis.

There is plenty that can go wrong in the quagmire over the next three years or more. I expect the Europeans will be polite towards Bush as the Glenagles meeting and make provision for climate change as best they can.

See Kevin Drum for a more conservative take on the speech – no grand predictions – and for the transcript.



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