The Big Bush Push In Iraq Sees The President Fronting An 'Insurgency' Against His Own Generals
Even before President Bush unveils 'The New Way Forward' in Iraq, in a speech later tonight, it is clear that he is going to act directly against the advice of America's most powerful generals.
In a nation where almost 50% of the annual budget goes to the military, Bush is, thereby, fighting his own insurgency against the wishes of men not used to having presidents and public officials telling them not only that they are they wrong, but their advice no longer influences the final decisions of The Decider In Chief.
Yes, Bush clearly listens to the The Generals, but it is also clear that he has an agenda that will not be swayed, nor negatively influenced, by the men in control of the nation's armed forces.
Bush likes to muse on how historians will view his presidency, still believing that the long-term view will be more positive than negative, as in decades hence a democratic Iraq that has risen from the ashes and scorched bones of a civil war will be viewed as something nigh on miraculous.
But this day, today, the unveiling of the 'New Way Forward' will be the event viewed as one of the most pivotal events of his presidency. Certainly, the most important day of his second term. Today is the day that history will prove whether or not Bush made choices that won the War On Iraq, or lost it decisively.
The speech itself is unlikely to be remarkable, and most of the details appear to have already been well and truly leaked days ahead of his announcements (with or without his silent permission).
But it is in the action of telling The Generals, "You may be right, but I don't care, I will do as I believe I must," that Bush sets himself up to face the very real chance of a military wide mutiny.
An unlikely mutiny, no doubt, but no president has faced such opposition from so many high-ranking military dons since the imperial wars of the late 1800s and early 1900s. And it is solidly credible opposition, backed up by the swollen ranks of furious retired generals, who rightly feel aggrieved and betrayed by the Rovian discrediting of their opinions and experiences in 2005 and 2006.
The below piece from the Washington Post explores some of these issues, though pulls back from discussing the mutinuous wave of dissent spreading fast and vastly through the US military ranks, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and perhaps most importantly on the homefront.
For it is amongst the National Guard and Army Reserve ranks who are now being told to get ready for an Iraq deployment (thousands of them for the second time) that the reality of the mutiny may now manifest. What happens when Bush says, "Deploy the Guard, deploy the Reserves," and the Guard and Rserves say "No, we won't be doing that. Sorry, Mr President."
With some polls stating that up to 75% of Americans not favouring an escalation of the war, for that is exactly what 'The New Way Forward' is, a mutiny in the Guard and Reserves would win the solid backing of the greater American public, and leave the NeoCons and the Republican media in the nightmarish lands of being forced to attack the very military they have championed, near ceaselessly, and without criticism, since 9/11.
Bush's plan will have to be something special. Something visionary, bold and one that favours less casualties and body bags for the American soldiers in the front lines.
We will hazard a guess that it is likely to feature details of how Iraq must take responsibility for its own security. Not later. Now. Within months.
The withdrawal of US Forces will depend on how likely it is that Bush will face an uprising amongst his own fighting forces, with, as stated, the solid support of the American public.
If Bush faces not enough opposition, not enough harsh reality, then American troops could stay in Iraq for a decade more.
The rage of the American public, and the mutiny of the armed forces, would have to be very real, very dangerous, and very likely to topple the presidency before Bush decides to abandon American bases in Iraq, and leave trillions of dollars worth of oil to the Russians, the French, the Chinese and, most importantly, the Iranians.
From the Washington Post (excerpts) :
When President Bush goes before the American people tonight to outline his new strategy for Iraq, he will be doing something he has avoided since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003: ordering his top military brass to take action they initially resisted and advised against.
Bush talks frequently of his disdain for micromanaging the war effort and for second-guessing his commanders. "It's important to trust the judgment of the military when they're making military plans," he told The Washington Post in an interview last month. "I'm a strict adherer to the command structure."
But over the past two months, as the security situation in Iraq has deteriorated and U.S. public support for the war has dropped, Bush has pushed back against his top military advisers and the commanders in Iraq...
John P. Abizaid, the outgoing head of Central Command, said less than two months ago that adding U.S. troops was not the answer for Iraq.
Bush's decision appears to mark the first major disagreement between the White House and key elements of the Pentagon over the Iraq war since Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, split with the administration in the spring of 2003 over the planned size of the occupation force, which he regarded as too small.
It may also be a sign of increasing assertiveness from a commander in chief described by former aides as relatively passive about questioning the advice of his military advisers. In going for more troops, Bush is picking an option that seems to have little favor beyond the White House and a handful of hawks on Capitol Hill and in think tanks who have been promoting the idea almost since the time of the invasion.
There is little question that more troops for Iraq seemed far from the conventional wisdom in Washington after the beating Bush and the Republican Party took in the midterm elections Nov. 7.
Indeed, when Bush met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, on Nov. 30, Maliki did not ask for more American troops as part of a new Baghdad security plan he presented to Bush, U.S. officials said.
Maliki's idea was to lower the U.S. profile, not raise it. "The message in Amman was that he wanted to take the lead and put an Iraqi face on it. He wanted to control his own forces," said a U.S. official familiar with the visit.