Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fred Kaplan on Bush's Can't-Lose Reversal

Over on Slate, the ever readable Fred Kaplan offers some predictions in Bush's Can't-Lose Reversal - Wednesday's speech will set the agenda for withdrawal from Iraq:

Brace yourself for a mind-bog of sheer cynicism. The discombobulation begins Wednesday, when President George W. Bush is expected to proclaim, in a major speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, that the Iraqi security forces—which only a few months ago were said to have just one battalion capable of fighting on its own—have suddenly made uncanny progress in combat readiness. Expect soon after (if not during the speech itself) the thing that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have, just this month, denounced as near-treason—a timetable for withdrawal of American troops.
Any move to de-escalate the Iraqi insurgency, particularly by removing the primary fuel feeding the fires—US troops, is to be welcomed. But I doubt that Bush's moves will be anything more than political cover. At Kaplan concludes in his article,
More to the point, does the president have a plan for all this? (The point is far from facetious; it's tragically clear, after all, that he didn't have a plan for how to fight the war if it extended beyond the collapse of Saddam.) Has he entertained these questions, much less devised some shrewd answers? If he's serious about a withdrawal or redeployment that's strategically sensible, as opposed to politically opportune, we should hear about them in his speech Wednesday night.

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