IRAQ TROOP SURGE, BATTLE AGAINST AL-SADR'S MILITIAS ON THE CARDS
BUT THE DECIDER STILL YET TO DECIDE
On Saturday, December 23, at Camp David, President Bush roundtabled the 2007 plan for Iraq with the new Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and presumably a handful of senior White House advisers and security officials.
- The Decider-In-Chief has not made public his plans, although rumours and news on what is coming flows steadily. 30,000 more American troops into Iraq, at least 3000 already on their way to Kuwait (the first major action taken by Gates) and a harrowing, casualty-heavy final confrontation with the 50,000 strong militias of Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr is apparently being wargamed at the Pentagon.
- But trouble brews on all fronts. Suicide bombers and/or insurgents may now target Kuwait, in an attempt to hit the troops before they even get into Iraq. Rounding up another 30,000 new troops is going to hit the Army Reserves and National Guard hard, and both are extremely unhappy about these new, very expensive demands on their depleted ranks and limited funds.
- Bush was still talking about "Victory In Iraq" in his last press conference on the war, and remained steadfast on his pledge to keep American troops in Iraq "until the job is done".
- But Bush won't only be facing opposition to a 'troop surge' into Iraq from Democrats. The American public hate the idea.
- In mid-December, CNN ran a poll that showed barely 11 perecent of those who responded to the poll thought pouring more troops into Iraq was a good idea.
From the International Herald Tribune (excerpts) :
Immediately after the beating his party took in November, President George W. Bush indicated he had received a message that voters wanted change and he would serve some up fast: He ousted his defense secretary, announced a full-scale review of his war plan and contritely agreed with critics that progress in Iraq was not happening "well enough, fast enough."
But in the past two weeks critics and even some allies say they have seen a reversal.
He has shrugged off suggestions by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that he enlist the help of Iran and Syria in the effort to stabilize Iraq. He has countered suggestions that he begin thinking of bringing troops home with public deliberations over whether to send more. And he has adjusted his view of the message voters sent in November away from Iraq, saying on Wednesday: "I thought the election said they want to see more bipartisan cooperation."Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a former U.S. Army Ranger and a member of the Armed Services Committee, said: "I don't think he's given up the sort of the sloganizing, and the simplistic view of what's happening there. I think the American people's message was deep concern about Iraq, deep skepticism about his policies, and what they want is a resolution of Iraq."
Reed supports a steady withdrawal from Iraq that is fundamentally at odds with any idea of an increase in troops there, which Bush is considering.The idea that Bush would even consider a military plan at variance with the wishes of some of his commanders has added to an increasing sense of isolation from his own party.
"I'm growing more disturbed every night by how isolated George W. Bush has become," Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, said on his MSNBC program last week.
"Shouldn't more Americans be disturbed at this unprecedented example of a White House that's in — and you can only call it this — a bunker mentality?"
The screen below him read: "Bush: Determined or Delusional?"
Delusional? That's a pretty big question to ask about the president's mental health, even from MSNBC.
I get the feeling that those opposed to a more aggressive War On Iraq - from all sides of politics and the American power elite - will be using questions regarding President Bush mental health, and whether he is still psychologically fit enough to be the commander-in-chief, to strip Bush of the power he needs to remain 'The Decider'.