21,500 more American troops committed to George Bush's war. Well, let's dive right in.
Bush started his speech last night with an admission that mistakes have been made, a stunning feat in itself, but also sadly illustrative of exactly how desperate the situation is. If Bush's impenetrable ego has been cracked to the extent that he finally owns culpability, then yes, it's bad. He thought the elections would make everything all better, but "the opposite happened." He blames al Qaeda, Sunni, and Iran-backed Shia death squads for the violence. Conspicuously missing from that equation is the 60,000-man-strong Mahdi Army of Muqtada al Sadr, the Shia cleric whose death grip on Bush's man al Maliki's nuts was made brazenly clear by the circus-tent hanging of Saddam last week.
He claims that the one message coming through "loud and clear" from the Iraq Study Group report is that "failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States." I thought the report made it pretty clear that we've already failed there, at least within the framework of Bush's definition of success. Every pretense in the rotating stock we used to justify the invasion ended up debunked. No weapons of mass destruction. No noticeable improvement in the everyday lives of Iraqis with Saddam out of power. No flowers and chocolates at our soldiers' feet, unless they're concealing a bomb. No nascent western-style democracy magically erasing centuries of tribal and religious conflict to create a stable nation. No reduction of the terrorist threat against American interests, but rather a cauldron churning out ten new terrorists or insurgents for every one we kill. No burnishing of America's image as the beacon of liberty and justice for the world. We may not get that last one back within my lifetime.
Back to the speech. Requisite 9/11 reference? Check. Requisite conflation of 9/11 with the Iraq war? Check. Requisite claim of success in Afghanistan? Checkity check. Requisite "when the Iraqis stand up..." in so many words? Got it. Oh, and now our troops will have the green light to go into any neighborhood they want (so maybe they can get back to looking for the US soldier kidnapped at gunpoint a couple months ago, you know, the one they quit looking for when al Maliki told them to stay out of al Sadr's back yard?). Requisite veiled reference to protecting Israel? Check.
Bits that made my soul puke just a little: the shout-out to Joe "Smooches" Lieberman, the recognition of the sacrifices made by families other than his own while his drunk-ass daughters tear a path through South America, the warning that we should expect a bloody year with more casualties. More casualties. More deaths accruing to this last-ditch gamble for Bush's hideously mismatched ego and grasp on reality.
And when the year's up, Mr. Bush, and all we have to show for it are another thousand dead young Americans? When we finally pull out and leave Iraq to consume itself? What then?