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8 Things to Watch For In Iraq

From Democracy Arsenal:

"What to listen for on Tuesday:

1. Willingness to Face Reality about Conditions on the Ground. Will Bush admit how tough things are right now in Iraq, or does he continue to pretend he knows something that the global media, our commanders on the ground, and the cold hard stats on casualties don't?

2. Honest Appraisal of the Iraqi Security Forces. If Bush argues that this is a short-term push before we turn things over to a rebuilt Iraqi security apparatus that will itself defeat the insurgency and let us go home, he is not being realistic. The numbers so far make this a Pollyanna scenario, at least for the next few years. Bush needs to talk frankly about the challenges of building up Iraqi forces.

3. A Characterization of the Insurgency. One difficulty in sustaining support for the war is the opacity of the insurgents. Are these hardened terrorists who loathe America? Nationalists who want political power? Ordinary citizens frustrated by the occupation? Foreign provocateurs? All of the above? Is the insurgency in its last throes or likely to last for years (Rumsfeld has said both in recent weeks). Particularly now that we're apparently in talks with the insurgent leadership, Bush needs to say something about who these people are.

4. A Rejection of Partisanship. Karl Rove's craven attempt to divert attention from dwindling support for the botched Iraqi operation revealed just how panicked conservatives have become. That kind of desperation will not make for sound leadership on Iraq or anything else (as Kos points out, the attempt at diversion through random finger-pointing is no longer even confined to Democrats).

5. A Commitment to Stronger Support for U.S. Troops. Bush needs to address how he is going to ensure that members of the armed services do not get shortchanged on the length and frequency of their deployments or the benefits they receive.

6. A Plan to Buttress Flagging Military Recruitment Efforts. Staying, much less strengthening, the course in Iraq depends on being able to continue to recruit enough troops. This has become a huge problem. It also affects the military's long-term effectiveness, and its real and perceived ability to handle another crisis (never mind problems like forest fires). Americans are worried about recruitment and a possible draft. Bush needs to confront this real concern.

7. A Plan for Victory. Bush has to explain how we get from here (mounting attacks, a vigorous insurgency, too few boots on the ground and no prospect for more) to an Iraq that's stable (never mind democratic) enough to allow the Americans go home. Will we attract foreign troops? Put more Americans on the ground (and if so who and how)? Expedite the training effort somehow? He needs to outline this vision step by step, explaining why his plans are realistic.

8. An Honest Assessment of Why Iraq Matters. The notion that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq to avoid fighting them at home was spurious when Bush first said it. Now, given the value of the American invasion and occupation as a recruitment tool for terrorists, that claim has lost all credibility. If Bush repeats this meaningless mantra, his message will fall flat. Even worse would be to revert, as Bush has in recent days, to the assertion of a link between Saddam and 9/11 -- claim so thoroughly discredited that even Bush himself disavowed it. Bush needs to explain why Iraq now matters on its own terms."
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6/30/2005 01:30:00 AM

You make some good points, and I agree that President Bush needs to have more discussion about the War on Terror and for alternative solutions to our homeland security problems. I think he needs to embrace more of a bipartisan stance on many issues, most notably the war.    



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