GWB Black and White TV

This past Wednesday, President Bush addressed the nation from the White House Library to unveil his "New Way Forward" 'strategy' in Iraq. (Throw out those old copies of the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq! They're worth as much as they did at release — nothing.) The decision means the official adoption of the "McCain Doctrine" as U.S. policy, but more importantly, an escalation of American involvement with 21,500 additional forces. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) stamped his seal of approval after the speech.

Will Bunch noted the eerie similarities between Bush's national address and then-President Lyndon Johnson's State of the Union Address from 1967 — forty-years ago to the day. But one such similarity, in particular, stuck out to me.

The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. –Bush, 1/10/07

We face more cost, more loss, and more agony. –Johnson, 1/10/67

President Bush's 'plan' includes a reconstruction package and a commitment from the Maliki government to spend $10 billion for that purpose. Pre-speech reports said that Bush was pushing for a reconstruction package, though no mention of U.S. reconstruction aid made it into the speech to the nation.

The plan, however, includes a "jobs creation program," according to the Key Tactical Shifts [PDF]. The sixth-grade level outline, or "Fact Sheet," can be viewed here, which includes this line:

Iraq Could Not Be Graver – The War On Terror Cannot Be Won If We Fail In Iraq.

Bush announced the expansion of "provincial reconstruction teams" and an unnamed "reconstruction coordinator" to be based in Baghdad and appointed by the family-less Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

(That whole right-wing media-created 'dustup' was blown way out of proportion and as dumb as President Bush is divorced from reality. All it does is cover-up the fact that Rice and the Bush administration got hammered on Iraq by senators left and right, and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) said that if the policy were to be carried out, it would be "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder since Vietnam.")

Late last year, the Pentagon pressed the White House to seek another $99.7 billion in funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, which would bring the total cost for both wars in the 2007 fiscal year to $140 billion.

As part of the 'new strategy,' Bush plans to spend more than $1 billion on economic aid. (A drop in the bucket considering the billions previously spent on reconstruction efforts.)

This is 2007, mind you, and that the war started in 2003. Four years after the fact is not the best time to, all of a sudden, get serious about delivering basic services and building the country's infrastructure.

I fear, for the sake of the nation, the well-being of the U.S. military and the Iraqi people, that this is all too little and four bloody, painful years too late. 

Paul Reickhoff, author of Chasing Ghosts: A Solder's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington, said it best when he reiterated his summation of this latest attempt at Iraq policy by the Bush administration in his January 10 appearance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

REICKHOFF: Yes, they feel like this is more of a political move than a military one. If the president was serious about upping the troop numbers, he should have done it three years ago.  And now they‘re just frustrated.  [...]

And I said last week, people are calling this a Hail Mary. If we‘re going to use a football analogy, we‘re down in the fourth quarter. This isn‘t a Hail Mary, this is a draw play.  It‘s even more stupid than a Hail Mary. [emphasis added]

The NFL playoffs continue this weekend so the use of a football analogy, for a lack of better words to explain how this 'strategy' will play out, seems quite appropriate.

It is third and long, we're behind and Bush is calling a draw play. We know how this, the 'New Way Forward' in Iraq, will play out. 

When Bush's 'draw play' gets stopped well short of 'victory,' he will punt the issue to the next president. Given that there are no contingencies, according to Dr. Rice's testimony, this is it. (How is it bad policy to "speculate" on what to do next should Plan A fail? It is dangerous wishful thinking on the part of the Bush administration that costs lives.)

Throw more bodies and money at it and hope that the problem goes away. (Or the war gets bigger, whichever.)

Catch you guys in Cambodia Laos Iran and Syria when Halliburton "wins" a government contract.

[Matt Ortega writes at SOTUblog and The Right's Field, a blog focusing exclusively on the GOP's field of presidential candidates from a liberal perspective.]