Right after the November 2006 midterm congressional election - where voters replaced Bush's enabling republican majority with a majority of Democrats tasked to end his Iraq occupation - Bush knew, right along with everyone else, that it was the determination of a solid plurality of Americans that there was nothing left to 'win' in Iraq and nothing worth sacrificing more American lives to achieve. After feigning concern for the judgment expressed in the reversal of both houses of Congress by acknowledging the independent Iraq Study Group and their recommendation to withdrawal, Bush cynically announced the formation of his own 'study group' comprised of the same Pentagon brass who'd been managing Bush's ideological struggle 'on the ground' all along.
Bush treated Baker's ISG report as political cover, rather than a indictment of his illegal fiasco. In his address, Bush claimed that the 77 recommendations in the report were actually an endorsement of his Iraq 'strategy'.
"The Iraq Study Group's report also explicitly endorses the strategic goal we've set in Iraq: an Iraq that can "govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself," Bush told Americans Saturday. "Given the current situation in Iraq, achieving this goal will require much time and will depend primarily on the actions of the Iraqi people," he said.
Even before the group released its proposals, Bush made it clear that he was looking for a "way forward" with his bloody occupation, not a way out. He heaped praise on the folks who are managing the politics "on the ground" in Iraq.
"No question in my mind, there are some very brave State Department officials who are engaged in this really important endeavor," Bush said of Condi Rice's diplomatic warriors. "I appreciate the advice I got from those folks in the field. And that advice is an important part, an important component of putting together a new way forward in Iraq," he told reporters.
Bush wanted us to know that he was listening to his defective "government", rather than listening to the independent, bipartisan ISG recommendations, or, listen to two out of three Americans who, according to polling for months before the election and months afterward, believe the United States is losing ground in Iraq, and the over 60% percent of Americans who say they want the Bush administration to set a timetable for withdrawal.
Bush also wants us to know that he's listening to his generals; not the ones he replaced right after the election, but the handpicked cabal who apparently have no problem with helping their lame-duck commander subvert the will of Americans and Congress as they press our troops forward. He complained in his radio address this weekend about Congress passing legislation that would "substitute the judgment of politicians in Washington for the judgment of our generals in the field."
His new general in command in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus, says, however, that decisions about the scope of the mission he's busy prosecuting are best left "to the policymakers" in Washington.
"It's up to other people to determine the policies, to resource those policies from which our mission emanates," Gen. Petraeus said in an interview with Jim Leher this week.
Petraeus is too modest. It was the recommendation of generals in Iraq to "surge" forward and escalate the Iraq occupation by deploying as many as 20,000 new American combat forces to 130,000 bogged down there already. General John Abizaid, in charge of the US Central Command had reportedly resisted the introduction of new troops, but his exit made way for Gen. Petraeus' new command; on board with the growing consensus in the Bush regime to push forward to "win" the occupation. At any rate, Petraeus didn't shy away from signaling what he thinks his mission in Iraq should be.
Congress has something to say in who our forces regard as an 'enemy' as they execute their constitutional authority to declare war. In the original authorization to use military force in Iraq, there is no permission to wage war against Islamic militants or nation-build, but Petraeus assumes it's all in there as he pushes our forces forward defending the Maliki junta against the specter of an Iraqi al-Qaeda. Asked by Leher about the more than 160 Americans that had been killed in a period of seven weeks, and the more than 5,000 Iraqis and double the number of Iraqi police killed from February to March, Petraeus blamed al-Qaeda instead of the sectarian violence which almost everyone agrees is the main source of the violence.
"It tells us, as I noted," Gen. Petraeus said, "that al-Qaida is still capable and able to cause significant death of innocent civilians."