The War President Settles on a New War | Harper's Magazine

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The War President Settles on a New War

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George Bush made a detour to Anbar Province, Iraq, en route to the upcoming Australian summit. He spoke there encouragingly about the progress achieved by his policies. Anbar is no doubt a success story. In large measure that is because a number of groups previously identified by the U.S. as “the enemy” are no longer viewed as “the enemy.” They remain opposed to the Maliki Government in Baghdad. But they cooperate with U.S. in efforts targeting Salafi organizations. There is certainly good news in Anbar, but this is still a great demonstration of our ability to declare victory simply by redefining expectations.

Still, why the unannounced sudden stop in Iraq? A few explanations. One, Bush announced what the so-called Petraeus Report will tell us. Evidently, the Surge is a success and this will justify a draw-down before the end of the year. So no need for General Petraeus to finish up that report; we know what it will say.

But here’s the news that may be lurking just behind the news. Military commanders urged a draw-down to occur before the commencement of military operations against Iran. Bush is accepting this recommendation only because he has mentally committed to an aerial campaign against Iran. He will therefore follow the general’s advice to get soldiers out of harm’s way, off to positions which are more secure in the event of an Iranian counterattack.

Throughout the Gulf area, moves are underway at this moment which are consistent with preparation for an aerial assault on Iran.

And how will the Bush appearance in Anbar be understood inside of the region? Bush aligns himself with Iraq’s Sunni minority, against the Shi’a Government in Baghdad, and in preparation for a massive attack on Shi’a Iran. We’re witnessing the latest dramatic summersault in U.S. policy on Iraq, and most of our brain dead punditry on the Potomac hardly even seem to notice.

Bush and his core White House team have come to a key conclusion. The Iraq War is going very poorly. Time for a new war.

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