January 12, 2007
Since President Bush decided to cast aside the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and plunge boldly ahead toward an uncertain victory, he has been criticized across the board. But most people aren't really surprised by his defiant stance, so the response has had the air of resigned fatalism. The partisan pundits of the Right such as Rush Limbaugh are becoming more shrill in their denunciations of war critics, as the polarizing effect of the escalation sharpens. Even they seem to have forgotten the fundamental political requirement of meaningful victory over the Islamo-fascists: that public opinion in this country be mobilized in support of the military effort. Failing that, there is not much point to launching another offensive.
In today's Washington Post, Zbigniew Brzezinski, cites "five flaws" in the President's plan. He criticizes Bush for "demagogic oversimplification" (which I think is a bit harsh) and calls the 21,500-troop surge "a political gimmick of limited tactical significance and no strategic benefit." He also calls attention to the irony of subjecting a "sovereign" government to U.S.-determined benchmarks, and concludes by bemoaning that the United States is becoming a colonial power in a post-colonial era.
Just before Bush's speech, Donald Sensing wrote: "I am, for the first time, deeply pessimistic about the future of this country." He blames the lack of leadership in both parties for the failure to respond creatively to this historical crisis point:
We can still prevail in Iraq, but that would require our president to speak straight to us about what it will take and a Congress that turn its eyes away from "the children" (meaning more big spending programs and federal control of our daily lives) and toward building the military numerically and deciding that once again, partisanship stops at the ocean's edge. But that won't happen, see above.
When one of the most reliable and sensible observers of military affairs writes words like that, you know we are in trouble.