Bush’s New Wayward Foray

January 10, 2007

We’ve had The Speech, and it was hardly full of surprises. Nearly everything was the same old same old, and the rest had been well telegraphed. But several items jumped out as worthy of note.

First, Bush steered clear of any new catchphrase. No “surge”. No “New Way Forward”. That means Rove had tried out three hundred different catchphrases on six hundred different focus groups, and every last one bombed. Our Rovester has fallen upon hard times.

Second, Bush identified two things that have been done wrong so far. Not enough troops was the first (though Shinseki was still completely wrong; we’ve only been exactly 21,500 short apparently, not a couple hundred thousand.) The other thing?

And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have…
Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: “The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation.”

That is to say, these new troops (with their inadequate armor) will be doing sweeps through Sadr City, and those sweeps will not necessarily be as restrained as, say, the gentle way in which the Marines flattened Fallujah. And Bush is naive enough to think that Maliki will both (1) go meekly along with this and (2) escape assassination from within his own camp.

Third, Bush has used this speech to begin positioning himself for the assault on Iran. He identified Iran as the backer of our adversaries in Iraq, to whose “network” we will take the fight:

Iran is providing material support for attacks on American
troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

And since those “networks” extend past Iraq’s borders into the Persian motherland, we hear just two sentences further into the speech that

I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.

Notable also are the things Bush left unsaid.

He said he’d form “a new bipartisan working group” to advise him on the “war on terror”. He didn’t say that he would be hand picking which Democrats would be allowed into his “bipartisan” group; but I suppose by now that sort of weaseling really does go without saying.

He said that the 21,500 would be sent in so that commanders would no longer have to play whack-a-mole, chasing the militias out of one neighborhood, only to have them return when we moved on to the next. He didn’t say why the militias wouldn’t simply return when the surge was over. And he didn’t say how long the surge would last, though the military certainly told him it couldn’t be sustained for more than four or five months. (Everyone who thinks the militias and the insurgents can’t sit tight for that long, polishing their weapons and enjoying the R & R, so signify by waving your dunce caps in the air. Thank you. Census taken.)

“Surge” is a technical term within physics, designating the third derivative of displacement with respect to time. But there’s an even shorter technical term physicists more commonly use for the same quantity.

The term is “jerk”.


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