Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
George W. Bush's manifest destiny
President Bush has appeared delusional before, with stories that he told Britain's Tony Blair in 2003 that God told him to invade Iraq and thus, solve the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. But now, Bush apparently has gone completely around the bend. In short, he means to keep the U.S. in Iraq, not for one more year, or five, or even ten, but more like 50 ... or forever. A disturbing portrait from the Dallas Morning News:

Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated "I am the president!" He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country's destiny."
(Read the entire piece here, it's got great insights into how our intervention has shattered the traditional societal structures of the Middle East, resulting in metastasizing terrorism...)

And Bush himself has made it plain that no matter what reality presents itself, he never intends to allow our troops to leave Iraq. In fact, Bushie says we should stop thinking of Iraq as a quagmire, like Vietnam, and start thinking of it like an armed stalemate, like Korea:

Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said Bush has cited the long-term Korea analogy in looking at the U.S. role in Iraq, where American forces are in the fifth year of an unpopular war. Bush's goal is for Iraqi forces to take over the chief security responsibilities, relieving U.S. forces of frontline combat duty, Snow said.

"I think the point he's trying to make is that the situation in Iraq, and indeed, the larger war on terror, are things that are going to take a long time," Snow said. "But it is not always going to require an up-front combat presence."

Instead, he said, U.S. troops would provide "the so-called over-the-horizon support that is necessary from time to time to come to the assistance of the Iraqis. But you do not want the United States forever in the front."
Slate, for one, wonders why the Bushies would resort to the Korea analogy, having blown through World War II and having been tripped up by Vietnam, given that:

In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, overthrew its regime (which posed a hypothetical threat), and, in the four years since, has kept about 150,000 troops in the country to kill terrorists (who weren't in Iraq before the war), to train the Iraqi army (which the Bush administration, for still-mysterious reasons, dismantled at the occupation's outset), and to keep a "low-grade" sectarian civil war (which erupted amid a vacuum of authority) from boiling over.

In the half-century-plus since the Korean armistice of 1953, just 90 U.S. soldiers have been killed in isolated border clashes in Korea. In the mere four years since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, more than 3,000 American servicemen and women have been killed, and the number rises every day.

To sum up, we intervened in South Korea as a response to an invasion and as part of a broad strategy to contain Communist aggression. We intervened in Iraq as the instigator of an invasion and as part of a broad strategy to expand unilateral American power. We remained in South Korea to protect a solid (if, for many years, authoritarian) government from another border incursion. We are remaining in Iraq to bolster a flimsy government and stave off a violent social implosion.

In other words, in no meaningful way are these two wars, or these two countries, remotely similar. In no way does one experience, or set of lessons, shed light on the other. In Iraq, no border divides friend from foe; no clear concept defines who is friend and foe. To say that Iraq might follow "a Korean model"—if the word model means anything—is absurd.
Related: Tony Snow tries to clean it up, and fails.

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posted by JReid @ 8:13 PM  
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