Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bush Action on Iraq

Bush still doesn't get it. He's still not telling the public anything, and that is when he's at his worst. After reading the Rumsfeld memo and the report for the Iraq Study Group, it strikes me that there has to be a lot of things that can be set into motion immediately. Not only should he start the easy and effective things into immediate motion, but he should tell the public what is being done and what the time frame is for further actions. Jobs programs, infrastructure work, Police training, embedded trainers in the military. These are all initial steps that should be at least in motion as we speak.

My frustration relates to why Bush is delaying and then not informing the public. Yes, it is for a political purpose, and informing the public will get you some support. No doubt there will be loud screeching from the left on why he just doesn't do all the recommendations of the Iraq study group, but any honest analysis will show that some of the recommendations are difficult, some are completely useless, and some are unlikely to succeed. That doesn't mean you can't start with the best ones ASAP and make further changes as you proceed.

Now, Senator Nelson goes to Syria, and Bush is objecting. Not that Nelson can negotiate anything in the name of the US. Bush should have let the DoS object and then left it alone.
Despite objections from the Bush administration, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson met with Syria's president in Damascus on Wednesday and urged him to tighten his nation's border with Iraq, a major crossing point for arms and aid for the insurgency.

Nelson said President Bashar Assad told him Syria was willing to help control the border, but made no specific promises.

"We in fact have a common interest to stabilize Iraq," Nelson said in a conference call Wednesday from neighboring Jordan. "Assad clearly indicated the willingness to cooperate with the Americans and/or the Iraqi army to be part of a solution. I think it's a crack in the door for discussions to continue."

Nelson is the first senior U.S. official to meet with Assad since the bipartisan Iraq Study Group called for reaching out to Iraq's neighbors, Syria and Iran, to help find a solution to the Iraq war.

This appears to be a major waste of time. Nelson is also playing politics on a big scale, but that's what politicians do when they can. It also strikes me that people constantly miss the point that Syria has no interest in seeing the US succeed in Iraq. The contention that they don't want to see a destabilize Iraq is ludicrous. Of course they want to see the US solution in Iraq to fail, which means there will be instability. The key is how much, and who gets the hegemony during the wash out when the US leaves. If Syria had the alleged desire for a stable Iraq, you'd think that they would have secured their borders rather than assisting the terrorists/jihadis getting to Iraq. There is something to be said for actions that they have already taken when analyzing what their intentions are and likely will continue to be.

As for the "crack in the door," that is just stupid. He doesn't set or even affect policy, so starting a dialog that has nothing as a base gets you nothing.
Nelson said he would report to the State Department and the Senate, where he serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. He also was named this week to the Intelligence Committee.

"I approach all of these discussions with realism, not optimism," he said.

The trip to the Middle East had been planned for some time but Nelson added the stop in Syria after last week's release of the Iraq Study Group report.

Realism? Seeing as this is a last minute change, it looks like grand-standing to me.
Nelson said other senators, including Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, were expected to visit Syria in the coming weeks.
Oh, good. A bunch of dimwits will be going to Syria. Hope they can all get air time with Assad. I'm certain they'll be of wonderful assistance to getting Syria to stop supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and in sealing the Iraq border.

The Iraq Study Group report of course has been taking a beating. They have some things factually wrong, such as the DIA resources for Iraq.
Last week's report from the study group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, said the agency had fewer than 10 analysts with more than two years of experience studying the insurgency.

"Capable analysts are rotated to new assignments, and on-the-job training begins anew," the 10-member bipartisan commission said.

In a statement, the agency said it wanted to correct the record.

"The Defense Intelligence Agency has more than 300 dedicated analysts focused on the many complexities of Iraq," the statement said. "They include a core cadre of 49 analysts focused exclusively on the insurgency, at least half of whom have more than two years experience working this issue."
This isn't really that big of a deal, other than the fact that an Intelligence agency is openly stating resources to a specific region. That strikes me as a bit foolhardy. Better to leave the enemy thinking you're incompetent than indicate your true ability.

The problems with the Iraqi politicians take on the report don't bode well either.
The president also had a 15-minute telephone conversation with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who a few days ago sharply criticized the Iraq Study Group report.

In a written statement, Talabani said that Bush assured him that he would make no decisions on his new Iraq strategy that would be "against your interests," telling Talabani that he supports his efforts to achieve national reconciliation.

Talabani, the statement said, thanked Bush for his role in the liberation of Iraq and said the Iraqi government is moving forward. He pledged to work with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on his efforts to implement a Baghdad security plan and to initiate a national reconciliation project.
It still strikes me as there is far too much of one side saying "do it all" and many just throwing the report away as a complete waste. There are good recommendations in the report. The militia laws, the economic incentives, infrastructure work, embedded trainers for the military, military supplies and infrastructure for the Iraq military. No doubt it will take time to get the best of the recommendations acted upon, but some can be enacted quickly, and even those that take longer should be spoken to for the public edification.

There also is a point on Bush's complaint of being rushed. That just doesn't fit. Not all recommendations require immediate activity, but the really good ones should be moved on immediately.
President Bush on Wednesday defended his decision to put off his widely anticipated shift in Iraq policy until early next year, saying he wanted his new Defense secretary to weigh in and warning he would not be rushed into making a decision on how to proceed.

As part of his review, Bush held another round of discussions with senior officials involved in Iraq planning, this time meeting the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, along with outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his successor, former CIA Director Robert M. Gates.

Although Bush declined to comment on the advice he received from the military leaders, Pentagon officials have said in recent days that top uniformed officers largely have rejected recommendations made by the Iraq Study Group to withdraw most combat forces over the next 15 months, a rejection Bush appeared to agree with.

Instead, many military commanders have voiced support for a sharp increase in troops as part of a last-ditch effort to restore order, a suggestion Bush has not rejected.
No doubt the new Defense Secretary needs to be involved, but that doesn't mean that there need be delay in some of the actions that don't require his input. The militia laws will have to be part of an Iraqi and military agreement. Personally, I think these are extremely important. There seems to be very little in the press regarding this very important military part of the solution.

My greatest frustration remains Bush's inability to talk to the public. I don't care if he says it himself or press releases it, but some indication of where they are going would be better than listening to the the pundits who refuse to wait and continue to babble on about where could be going or not. Far to much of the commentary out there is just noise and could easily be extinguished with a simple statement of the immediate actions and process that is being performed.

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