Republicans who want to be president lined up in a FOX News debate last night to declare Bush's "surge" in Iraq a success. The event, held at the University of New Hampshire, revealed a satisfaction among the republican hopefuls with the increased occupation, to the point where the candidates were trying to outdo each other in their claims that Bush's escalation is working.
The AP covered an exchange between Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney where Romney asserted that the "surge" was "apparently working" and was rebuked by McCain who had a more positive spin on the occupation.
"The surge is working, sir, no, not apparently. It's working," McCain insisted.
The majority of republican legislators have, so far, refused to confront Bush with any binding repudiation of his dubious occupation, opting instead to use the American publics' growing dissatisfaction with their president's 'stay the course' policy in Iraq as a pretext to shake up the White House's etch-a-sketch and create a new, blank slate for continuing in Iraq which incorporate their nebulous allegiance to his 'war on terror' with a deepening military response to the chaos Bush has manufactured in Iraq.
They've ramped-up their rhetorical charge that Democrats have a 'strategy for failure' in Iraq, and have used that false premise to craft their own muscle-bound approaches to resolving the quagmire. Yet, their prescriptions for 'winning' in Iraq have a familiar ring to them which tracks Bush's improbable boasting about military progress that he insists has been made in securing the territory which holds the seat of the propped-up Iraqi government.
Former New York Mayor Guliani came up with a 9-11-analogous mission statement for Iraq in last night's debate, which served to position him in opposition to Bush's status quo at the same time he was arguing to continue the failed course. "The objective should be an Iraq that is going to help us in the terrorists' war against us," Guliani said in last night's debate.
"If Iraq is a battle in the terrorists' war against us, then the winning of that battle constitutes an Iraq that will help us, not an Iraq that will become a headquarters for Islamic terrorism," Guliani argued.
The battle in Iraq in the "terrorists' war against us," as McCain described the occupation, has been thwarted -- in part by Bush himself, with his diversion from the hunt for the 9-11 suspects in Afghanistan to his demonstration of our military forces' 'shock and awe' in Iraq. If Iraq is, in fact, the 'center' of the U.S. terror war -- an ambition which Bush shares earnestly with bin-Laden to the point of promoting and repeating the terrorists taunts and declarations -- then he's losing, miserably and tragically.
Amazingly, it's Iran who has been opportunistically labeled by Bush as the most pernicious threat to America in their alleged sponsoring of terrorism around the world and in Iraq. But it goes without much comment from the White House that Bush's newly-ascended Iraqi cohorts are literally 'hand-in-hand' with the demonized Iranian regime, forging new agreements on regional security and forming mutually beneficial economic partnerships.
Moreover, the militarized elements of the Iraqi resistance to the U.S./Maliki regime who identify themselves as 'al-Qaeda' (mostly operating from within the Sunni enclaves) are competing in their struggle for power, influence, and territory with the Shiite combatants who the U.S. say receive support from Iran. It may be technically correct for Bush to posture as if he's in a direct battle with the 9-11 fugitives he let escape from Tora Bora over five years ago, but the 'situation on the ground' in Iraq has Bush directing our forces to fight and die on just one side of the multi-fronted sectarian war.
Republican candidate, Tom Tancredo is among those who see Iraq as the staging ground for their ideological war against the bogeymen they fear will 'follow them home' from their manufactured aggression and retaliate for the U.S. military forces' (and their president's) rape and pillage of the Middle Eastern homeland. "The war is not actually in Iraq," Tancredo told the debate audience. "The war is with radical Islam. That's who we are at war with," he said.
"We have to understand it, Iraq is a battlefield in that war," he insisted. "We have to disengage as the police force in Iraq. But we cannot leave the country. We cannot leave because this is not a war that will end with our departure."
As threatening as it may well be to have individuals associated with al-Qaeda or Iran consolidating power in Iraq, the fact will remain that it is Iraqis themselves who will decide that allegiance; and it will ultimately and increasingly just be Iraqis who our soldiers are killing, detaining, and uprooting. As long as Bush and his republican enablers insist on keeping our troops in place in Iraq, defending the fractured rule of the installed Iraqi regime, our nation will increasingly find ourselves in a greater war with the very Iraqis Bush and his republican defenders claim to be liberating behind their blundering militarism.
One of the most convoluted republican rationales for perpetuating Bush's Iraq folly came from Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as he cast the occupation in the mold of Powell's 'Pottery Barn' analogy; almost channeling Nixon's argument that the 'prestige' of America would be damaged if we withdrew from his quagmire.
"What we did in Iraq, we essentially broke it," Huckabee said in the debate. "It's our responsibility to do the best we can to try to fix it before we just turn away," he argued. "Because something is at stake. ... We've got a responsibility to the honor of this country and to the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and ever served in our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor that they deserve," he said.