Friday, August 24, 2007

The Lost Year

My man Dan Froomkin could not have summed it up any better in his column today.

A new national intelligence estimate concludes that President Bush's troop surge shows no signs of accomplishing its goal of encouraging political reconciliation in Iraq.

An influential Republican senator and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff now favor a troop withdrawal. (Sen. John Warner wants Bush to demonstrate that the commitment in Iraq is not open-ended; Marine Gen. Peter Pace argues that the military simply can't keep this up.)

These and other developments take us back in some ways to December 2006. It was then, in the wake of the November election and the report of the Iraq Study Group, that the debate in Washington finally appeared to be shifting away from how to achieve victory and toward how to cut our losses.

Instead, Bush ignored public sentiment, overruled his military commanders and opted for escalation.

And now it appears that the only thing the surge has bought him is time -- nine months or maybe a year, during which he was able to postpone the inevitable.

What has that year cost America -- and Iraq? For starters, a year in Iraq translates to over 1,000 more dead American soldiers; over $100 billion more in direct appropriations; over 15,000 more dead Iraqi civilians; and countless grievous wounds and shattered families both here and there.

In light of the costs, having bought a year of time may not seem like much of an accomplishment. But if Bush can drag things out another year or so, he can wash his hands of the whole mess and leave it for his successor to deal with.



Mac Gs World