Looking at George Bush last night was not reassuring. If reassurance is what you needed, both you and the President had a bad night.
All day yesterday, MSNBC, played and re-played the "mission accomplished" tape of a youthful, confident, triumphant Bush. The scenes of young sailors and marines cheering a winner and a President on top was tough to watch. The moment of a national common purpose and American optimism has come and gone and the carrier scene is a hard reminder. Last night The President's face was far different from the man in the aviator's uniform.
George Bush must be a notoriously bad poker player. He would have to wear a ten gallon hat and mirrored aviator glasses to at least stay in the game. He was wearing neither last night and needed both. George Bush is a worried man.
Bush is losing political allies as fast as new presidential candidates appear. He has lost both houses of Congress and the Democrats are wasting little time in reminding him and the rest of the world how little time he has left. When you play against a man with little time, you play for time. Time is at the top of the list of President Bush's enemies. Bush knows it and so do all his enemies and he has cultivated and engendered many.
Any defensive strategist in Iraq or the Democratic Party is going to run out the clock. Bush has no strategy for that. Had he been a better student of history, he would have known that patience was not an American virtue. His enemies are not handicapped by time.
The new Iraq strategy as I understand it, is all based on time and the action of al-Maliki. Maliki is to be tough and resolute. No more being nice to the militias and the little round black eyed Muqtada al-Sadr. The plan is predicated upon the US losing patience and Maliki is to act before his time runs out. It seems to me that Maliki is keenly aware of the time and is not going to do anything that is going to get him killed when someone else's time runs out. That strategy is not going to work. It will not work, because there is no one standing behind Bush that is talking about picking up the flag and charging forward when time is called on Bush. I was reminded of the President's father looking at his watch during one of the debates with Clinton. Well, GWB may as well have done the same thing last night as everyone knows he is watching the clock.
No, the time strategy will not work. Something far simpler and dramatic would be more effective. There is only one power that is benefiting from the mess in Iraq and that is Iran. Bush removed the natural enemy to Iran with the deposing of Saddam and the fragmentation of Iraq. Saddam went to the gallows refusing to believe that Bush could not have noticed that. Saddam's last words were, "Who is Muqtada?" He went out cursing the Iranians. Saddam knew the real enemy, but time ran out for him as well. I wonder if the President noticed?
I know what I would do, but am far more interested in what you would do? Tell us. Will this strategy work? If not, what would?