Sunday, August 31, 2008

Listening to the men in uniform*

Perhaps getting less attention in all the Gustav and convention coverage is a long New York Times article about the origins of the surge of US troops into Iraq in early 2007. George Bush has frequently offered statements like this in explaining the surge --

Early last year, after consultations with our commanders -- and the Commander-in-Chief must always listen to the commanders and not the latest opinion poll -- (applause) -- I ordered a surge of forces into Iraq.

The NYT article shows that for all practical purposes, he's lying. First, alternatives to the "stay the course" strategy in 2006 were being considered precisely because of public opinion --

At a Nov. 22 White House meeting, top aides outlined an “emerging consensus” on the way ahead. There was wide agreement that a successful outcome in Iraq was vital for the Bush administration’s “war on terror” and a candid assessment of the difficulties.

A document prepared for the review stated: “Our center of gravity — public support — is in jeopardy because of doubts that our Iraq efforts are on a trajectory leading to success.”

Second, in all the internal debate, the constituency most opposed was the Pentagon. The idea originated from the National Security Council and had elements of what the State Department wanted to do, but owed its momentum even more strongly to the support of the American Enterprise Institute and Dick Cheney's office. Those men in uniform wear the standard Washington uniform: the suit.

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