FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BETTER
The L.A. Times thinks Bush made a crucial concession in his speech yesterday, acknowledging what military commanders have been saying for some time:
...In Senate testimony two months ago, the two generals had argued that a smaller U.S. force was necessary because the very presence of Americans was fueling the insurgency and fostering a dependency on a continued U.S. presence by the nascent Iraqi security force.
...Bush remained firm in his insistence that the U.S. military's mission would not be complete until the insurgency was defeated.
"When that mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will come home," Bush said at his ranch near Crawford, Texas, in August.
But amid much of the same rhetoric Wednesday, Bush showed how far the White House had moved toward embracing a reality that the military and much of the rest of the administration had articulated months earlier.
The military's mission, Bush said, was to train an Iraqi force that could take on the insurgents after U.S. troops have left the country.
"Our goal is to train enough Iraqi forces so they can carry the fight," Bush said at the Naval Academy.
I don't know about this. I'm not sure I believe Bush knows his message is changing.
I don't think Bush is stupid, but I also don't believe he's a detail guy. I think he prides himself on gut-instinct decision-making and on not needing to process a whole lot of information. "We will defeat the terrorists" feels good to him. "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down" feels good to him. To some extent he's processing what's going on in Iraq, but in his mind he's bending it and shaping it until it conforms to his vision. And that vision is very, very simple:
We win. I win.
In fact, Bush has said both in sequence. The August quote is from a Bush radio address. Here's a longer excerpt:
Our approach can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when that mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will come home to a proud and grateful nation.
Defeating the evildoers ourselves? Enabling the Iraqis to defeat the evildoers? It's all the same to Bush.