While President George W. Bush tells the American people that U.S. troops must stay in Iraq until they have “achieved victory,” Pentagon planners and intelligence professionals tell the White House the war cannot be won.
“The President’s speech tonight will be a con-job,” says a senior Pentagon analyst who asked not to be identified. “He will be attempting to sell a strategy that is not achievable and one that is not backed by the professionals who tell him otherwise.”
In fact, experts say Bush can no longer rally Americans to support his failed far in Iraq.
“The American people have turned against the war, and they’re not turning back,” said political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. “The public is no longer with the President on this issue.”
But opposition to the President’s policies also grows in the private corridors of the Pentagon and in the intelligence community where professionals in the art of waging war say the battle for Iraq is lost.
“It’s over,” says a longtime analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. “It’s been over since we declared a victory we didn’t achieve and claimed to have accomplished a mission that was unfinished.”
Bitterness grows within the military and intelligence establishment over Bush’s unwillingness to listen to reason on Iraq. Analysts called to the White House to provide intelligence briefings on the situation in Iraq dread the trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where an honest assessment of the war brings anger and sharp rebukes from a President who doesn’t like to hear bad news.
“It’s a no-win situation,” says one longtime Pentagon operative. “If we provide an honest assessment of the situation the President blows his stack. He ignores our recommendations and then blames us when things go wrong.”
A record number of senior officials at both the Pentagon and CIA have left in recent months, saying they are unable to deal with what they call “the imperial Presidency of George W. Bush.”
Republicans also grow increasingly nervous over Bush’s stubbornness on Iraq and know the growing public opposition to the war is killing them politically.
“If elections for Congress were being held next Tuesday, Republicans would lose both houses. The GOP knows it,” says Sabato.
Other feel opposition to the war will continue to grow and, with it, increased demands that the U.S. withdraw..
“No matter how the questions are phrased, all the polls have logged increases in pro-withdrawal sentiment over the course of the war,” says John Mueller, an expert on war and public opinion, based at Ohio State University. And that sentiment is inextricably linked to the growing belief that the war itself has been a mistake.”
That belief the war itself has been a mistake is one shared by a growing number of those whose job it is to wage war – the pros at the Pentagon and in the intelligence community and the same pros that George W. Bush ignored in his headlong march into a losing war in Iraq.