How the war might play out

President Bush is planning a treaty with Iraq, to be finalized next summer, which will have the practical effect of handing the war and the president’s tactics to his successor as a fait accompli. Whoever the next president is, it will be very tough to disentangle us from the war.

As for the war, there are a couple of fascinating developments. The surge is working, maybe only temporarily, but it is working. Violence has fallen dramatically; large areas of Baghdad are something close to normal; and the refugees have begun to return.

Even the public feels better about the war. About half the people think the military effort is going well, up from 30 percent last February. It hasn’t done much for the president. Bush’s approval ratings actually slipped again, to 30 percent.

Meanwhile, Bush confidante Karl Rove, whose job in retirement appears to be brushing up the president’s legacy, says, rather stunningly, that Bush didn’t want to go to war but was pushed into it by the Senate’s impetuous rush to pass a war-powers resolution. One who voted for it, of course, was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now the Democratic presidential front-runner.

These converging trends could be a nightmare for Bush. Let us play with a scenario. Sometime between 2009 and 2017, the former president is watching TV, as it happens, with NBC’s “Today” on the scene.

Meredith: “After a tumultuous welcome here at Baghdad airport, the presidential motorcade is about to leave for the Green Zone. It’s a sign of how much things have changed that the president is riding in an open convertible, which the cheering populace has almost buried in flowers.

“I don’t believe it, Matt, but President Hillary Clinton is being welcomed as a liberator.”

Matt: “They’re coming down Route Irish, once considered the most dangerous road in Iraq. Now, of course, it’s the William Jefferson Clinton Highway in honor of the president’s global-goodwill ambassador and the work he did in her early difficult days in office shoring up support for the war.

“As an interesting footnote, the motorcade is now passing a popular local falafel stand, part of a chain started by former cleric Moktada al-Sadr after he gave up the Mahdi Army and radical Islam. Indeed, I believe that’s he on the sidewalk waving an American flag.”

Meredith: “We’re now coming onto the grounds of the presidential palace where President Clinton will be greeted by Prime Minister Siddiq, voted into office in an election that U.N. observers called ‘even cleaner than Iceland’s.’ He is waiting beneath the giant statue of Gen. David Petraeus, a popular backdrop for wedding-party photos.

“Matt, Prime Minister Siddiq is departing from the official welcome program. It looks like Hillary Clinton is winning the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes. He’s presenting her with a huge check. It’s for half a trillion dollars. Let’s listen to the Iraqi leader.”

Siddiq: “It’s money from our oil revenue and just a small payment — the first of many — to thank you for all the money you Americans spent to free and restore our country.”

Matt: “The two leaders are now going up the steps to the official guesthouse. There will be a light dinner and then they are off to the Baghdad Stadium for the big Barbra Streisand benefit concert to combat global warming.

“And now here’s Al with the weather from Anbar Province …”


  1. Steve Horn

    First off – I fully expected Bush to try to re-write history – his administration has been playing fast and loose with the facts for years.

    Second – thanks for the laugh regarding the outcome of the war – but there are parts of your theorem:

    1) Hillary won’t be president
    2) The Iraqi people never have and never will see us as “liberators”
    3) A treaty with Iraq is fine – but we’re not fighting Iraqi’s – remember – we’re fighting terror – so we’d need to get a treaty with a borderless concept
    4) Iraq isn’t going to pay us dime one

    But thanks again – I needed a laugh this morning –



  2. John Parker

    ‘As for the war, there are a couple of fascinating developments. The surge is working, maybe only temporarily, but it is working. Violence has fallen dramatically; large areas of Baghdad are something close to normal; and the refugees have begun to return.’

    Fascinating? I think not. A little dose of reality is called for here. The “surge” is not and has never worked. Despite all the hoopla about the surge by the right wing, the surge (an insertion of 30,000 additional troops into Baghdad, a city of six MILLION people) is nothing more than a “fogging” issue.

    The decrease in American and Iraqi civilan deaths is really a direct result of a political decision made by Iraqis. Namely, Muqtada al-Sadr’s orders to have his Shiite militant Mahdi Army stand down from offensive operations for six months, which commenced in August. It’s these same Shiite militants that were neutralizing American troops like ducks in a shooting gallery, and who were also mostly responsible for Iraqi sectarian violence. When al-Sadr ordered the stand down, his forces stopped fighting. American deaths declined from 84 in August, to 65 in September, to 38 in October. It was clearly evident what the reduction in violence was directly attributed to.

    Predictably though, the neo-cons, and warhawks all attributed the decrease in violence to General David Patreaus’ war strategy. And Senator John McCain even had the audacity to proclaim Patreaus’ strategy an “astonishing success” without ever mentioning the fact that the Mahdi Army had simply stopped fighting.

    Our elected officials nor the mainstream media want to acknowledge the real reason for the decrease in bloodshed. They refuse to acknowledge that Iraq’s future is in the hands of the Iraqi’s, and not Washington D.C. Simply put, if al-Sadr continues his stand down, there will be relative peace in the country. If not, more of America’s future will return home in body bags; and in droves.

    If Iraqi’s want peace, they will get it; it’s in their hands. al-Sadr’s stand down has dramtically reduced the violent cycle of death, more so than any infusion of 30,000 additional troops could ever accomplish. It’s now time to face reality and give Iraq back to the Iraqis.

    Peace to all.

    John Parker

  3. old_curmudgeon

    I would like to add to John’s statement above that along with the “standdown” by Sadr’s forces, as a part of the “surge” the US forces have been bribing the Sunni insurgents with massive amounts of $$$, not to mention, but I will anyway, massive amounts of armaments. Yup, we’re funding both sides of the malcontents. Now, what do you suppose is going to happen when one side or the other, or both, get tired of “waiting” and decide they’re ready to play King of the Hill again?

    And part of the reason why the level of violence has decreased in Baghdad might have something to do with the fact that most of the city has been cleansed – sunnis in sunni walled neighborhoods and shias in shia walled neighborhoods – remember all those concrete walls the army was building? As for those “returning” according to the UN observers the majority of them are refugees who could not afford to stay in Jordan/Syria any longer – financially or because of being unwelcome and unwanted in Jordan/Syria anymore – and they are not returning to their former homes because they’ve all been confiscated by those who stayed – and they are armed. So what they are “returning to” needs to be looked at closely before we make blanket statements that lead people to believe that “returning” means things are better.

    A major dose of salt, on the side, of course. But that’s just this old curmudgeon’s opinion…