Bush plans no major changes in Iraq war policy

Although he says he will take recommendations by the Iraq Study Group and others "very seriously," President Bush has decided to continue his basic policy on the war and has asked his staff to work out the details as he wraps up a highly public review of the war and its aims.

White House insiders say Bush still believes the war can be won and is determined to "stay the course" until that victory is achieved — a goal that few others within the President’s inner circle believes is valid.

By stubbornly sticking to his failed policy, the President will not accept a timetable that calls for withdrawal of combat troops by 2008, sticking to his strategy that the war will continue after his Presidency ends in 2009.

Military commanders who met Tuesday with Bush sought more advisers to train the Iraqis, not more U.S. combat troops in Iraq. They also urged the administration to pour significantly more funding into equipment for Iraqi security forces, according to a defense specialist familiar with the meetings.

Gen. John Abizaid, top U.S. commander in the Middle East, and Gen. George Casey, the top general in Iraq, want more armored vehicles, body armor and other critical equipment for the Iraqis, said the defense specialist, who requested anonymity because the discussions were private.

Abizaid has told the Senate Armed Services Committee that troop levels in Iraq need to stay fairly stable and the use of military adviser teams expanded. About 140,000 U.S. troops and about 5,000 advisers are in Iraq.

The message to Bush, the defense specialist said, is that the U.S. cannot withdraw a substantial number of combat troops by early 2008, as suggested in the Iraq Study Group report, because the Iraqis will not be ready to assume control of their country. Bush is delaying making public his new Iraq policy plan in part to allow officials to work out the funding, he said.

Bush scheduled a session Wednesday with senior defense officials at the Pentagon. He already has visited this week with State Department officials to review options, hosted a few outside Iraq experts, and met with Iraq’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi. Last week, the president held talks with the leader of the largest Shiite bloc in Iraq’s parliament, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, and with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the president’s staunchest war ally.

Iraq has proposed that its troops assume primary responsibility for security in Baghdad early next year and that U.S. troops be shifted to the capital’s periphery, The New York Times reported on its Web site Tuesday night.

Iraq’s national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, told the Times that the plan was presented during Bush’s meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, on Nov. 30.

Bush’s meetings at the Pentagon were expected to cap his high-profile outreach effort, which surrounded last week’s presentation of the Iraq Study Group report, a blistering review from an independent, bipartisan commission.

The Iraq Study Group recommended most combat troops be withdrawn by early 2008 and the U.S. mission changed from combat to training and support of Iraqi units. It also called for an energetic effort to seek a diplomatic solution to Iraq’s violence by engaging its neighbors, including Iran and Syria.

Bush, cool to both of the commission’s central ideas, had been expected to follow his information-gathering with a pre-Christmas announcement of his own altered blueprint for U.S. involvement in Iraq. But the White House, citing the president’s request for more time to refine and game out new policies, said Tuesday that Bush would wait until early next year.

"It’s not ready yet," White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "There may be some areas on which there are still going to be debates, but most have kind of been ironed out."

White House insiders say Snow is lying. Bush has decided that he will ignore most, if not all, of the ISG’s recommendations and stick with the game plan that has sent Iraq into an uncontrollable civil war, sent the President’s approval ratings plummeting and cost Republicans control of Congress.

Dissatisfaction with the president’s handling of the war is at an all-time high. Democrats take control of Congress on Jan. 4 because of midterm elections that turned in large part on that issue.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., about to become Senate majority leader, criticized Bush’s decision to delay unveiling the new Iraq plan.

"It has been six weeks since the American people demanded change in Iraq. In that time Iraq has descended further toward all-out civil war and all the president has done is fire Donald Rumsfeld and conduct a listening tour," Reid said. "Talking to the same people he should have talked to four years ago does not relieve the president of the need to demonstrate leadership and change his policy now."

The White House first began suggesting the pre-Christmas goal a month after outgoing Pentagon chief Donald H. Rumsfeld resigned and Bush nominated Gates to replace him. Gates plans to go to Iraq shortly after he is sworn in next Monday.

Snow said Bush told his staff Tuesday that he wanted more information about the ramifications for the U.S. military, Iraq’s internal politics, regional relations and other matters.

Bush showed no indication of his leanings.

(Includes information from The Associated Press) 


  1. RealityCheck

    In India you catch monkeys by putting some food in a jar big enough for a monkey to slide its paw into but not big enough for it to take out holding the food. Since monkeys won’t let go of the food, they stay stuck until the hunters come. Chimpie has his paw around Iraqi oil. He’s not going to let go of those Iraqi bases for nothing. He’s staying the course with the other monkeys standing around with their paws in Iraqi bottles: Cheney, Kissinger, the neocons, AIPAC, Israel, and the Saudis. He is abandoning his other fellow monkeys up in the trees: Republicans up for re-election in ’08, in addition to all the other wildlife just trying to get by: the 80% of the American people who want to bring the troops home. This is going to be a frigging fascinating catastrophe for Chimpy and his greedy monkey friends: Republicans, Israel, AIPAC, and Saudi Arabia, when the hunters come. Oh – let’s not forget poor grieving dear old dad. Geez…no legacy but a pathetic failure of a son…You can already hear those hunters approaching in the underbrush…

    Let’s get it on video to show the grandkids what not to do…

  2. Keith

    It has oft been said that if the only tool you know how to use is a hammer, then you tend to treat everything as a nail.

    It would now appear that everyone now occupying the Congress, the State Department, and the Pentagon (that is, everyone BUT the “Dimwit-in-Chief” in the White House!) are finally beginning to realize that the Texas Sheriff approach to diplomacy…. negotiating agreements with (or getting concessions from) other countries or cultures at gunpoint…. just doesn’t work.

    In the process, the ignorant “Texas Sheriff” that we elected King has now made an absolute MESS of our country’s once unquestioned credibility and proud reputation throughout the rest of the world. And there is absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind that his vigilante tactics have only succeeded in stirring up multiple “hornet’s nests” and made the world a FAR more dangerous place than it was when he first took office.

    All we need do is look at the mess his “hammer-like” foreign policy has created in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and North Korea. In each of these cases (particularly in North Korea) diplomatic negotiations that had been quietly (and successfully) proceeding apace now lie in ruins. Our diplomacy with each of these rogue nations was largely working in our favor until the “Texas Sheriff” (and his equally ignorant gang of “gun-slingers”) rode into town and started killing people and breaking things and then threatening everyone with their stupid “with us or against us” ultimatums.

    Unfortunately, as a direct result of this stupidity, we now have no “good” options in Iraq. Mr. Bush and his minions have painted themselves (and by extension our once proud nation) into the proverbial corner.

    His “textbook-classic” military and political mistakes are absolutely inexcusable. They are yet more indicators of his total arrogance and shocking ignorance of how to effectively fight a war…even an illegal one…. and, by extension, his absolute incompetence to effectively lead our nation.

    His collective mistakes are the root cause of why the debacle in Iraq now just keeps getting bigger and will continue to do so in the months and years ahead unless someone, somewhere with the power to cut off the funding of this illegal war finally faces the reality that the Iraq war is hopelessly lost and finally pulls the fiscal plug.

    We need to cut our losses and bring our long-suffering troops home. To do otherwise… to keep them there indefinitely all the while knowing that the war IS lost…is to keep killing our troops for no justifiable military purpose.

    And, any way you cut it, that’s murder.

    Unfortunately, stupidity and incompetence in high office aren’t impeachable offences. However, outright fraud and the continued, senseless killing of our troops for no military purpose clearly are.

    When the likes of true statesmen like James Baker and Colin Powell tell us that Mr. Bush’s foreign policies are now on the wrong track, then it is clear…beyond any shadow of doubt…that our country is in deep, serious trouble.

  3. GlennK

    What an asshole Bu$h is.Let him exclaim the deaths of the thousands of GI’s that will now die just so this putz can save face. Fuck him he deserves too be Impeached for starting this War under false pretenses. he’s deserves to be hauled up to the Hague in chains.