Bush has done what I expected him to do, released only part of the NIE. He has cherry picked 4 pages of the 30+ page report. These pages are from the summary. While they do include the portion that clearly state that the Iraq war is breading terrorist, they also include a number of Bush's talking points.
This portion is giving him some cover with the national media. This morning on CNN a talking head from Time provided a prime example of this by focusing on the portions that he says sound like they come from a Bush speech. Aside from indicating what may be a personal bias on the part of the guest from Time, while not completely wrong, it is clearly not completely right.
The report does indicate that terrorism is a threat, that a lack of democratic institutions add to existing fustrations, and that, as our President loves to say, there are people trying to kill us. Overall the report indicates that winning the war is critical to the US.
A key issue about all of these points is, I don't think you would find many people inside the democratic party who would disagree. It is not so much the goal, but the path the president has chosen that is in question from the left. Yes, we have to fight terrorism, but we have to fight it in a wise manner.
Prior to the war many voices, including mine, pointed out that a war in Iraq would only incite more anti-US passions, would increase the appeal of Al Qaida, and would further destabilize an already dangerous area. It was not the goal of fighting terror we disagreed with, it was the path Bush selected that was wrong then (as has been clearly proven) and is wrong now.
For some reason, the Talking Heads in the media refuse to see this. They accept and echo Bush's spin that if we don't choose to fight Bush's way, we don't want to fight at all. For some reason they are unable to understand that selecting another path is not surrender, but may be the way to a quicker victory.
Iraq is right now a failed state. It is unable to protect itself, police itself, or deliver the bare minimum of public services. At this time, the most likely outcomes for Iraq are very unappealing to the US. A fractured confederacy, with a rich nation in the south, closely aligned with Iran, a poor anti-west nation in the middle and an expansive west friendly nation in the north, is currently being considered by some in the Iraqi government. This would not stop the fighting, but may reduce it in the short term. In the long run, this would assure a generation of continued fighting as the Sunni tried to recapture some oil wealth, the Kurds tried to expand into Iran, Syria, and Turkey, and the Shia tired to hold on to the southern oil.
The other likely option is an open civil war, that results in the southern 2/3 of the nation being aligned with Iran, and the Kurds creating their new land in the north. In either case, the Bush dream of a secular, democratic, west friendly Arab nation in the middle of the middle east is dead.
The Democrats see this, the Republicans don't. The only way to change these outcomes is to radically change the mission that we are currently on. If Bush still wants to create his paradise on the Tigris and Euphrates, his only choice is to change the mission and triple the US force in Iraq. While we may have the proper force size in place to perform a training mission, it is clear we lack the force to pacify Iraq.
Our new mission still needs to be the creation of a self sustaining independent state in the area that is currently Iraq. The idea of it being a west friendly democracy may have to be shelved. We have to force the Iraq's in the southern 2/3 of the country to stand on their own two feet. They are now use to using the US forces as a crutch, it has to be removed. Redeploying of the vast majority of the forces to the Kurdish north makes the most sense. We will have forces close enough to respond, but outside the lines of fire that the coming civil war will bring.
we have to bring our force size to half a million men, and go on an aggressive pacification mission.
But to stay the course just assures an ever accelerating growth in terrorist, and a slow bleeding of both the US forces, and US treasury in a battle that will never be won.
This is not surrendering in the war on terror, it is removing a weapon from the terrorist, and will allow us to focus on the real war on terror, and not this failing side show that the Bush administration created during a period of Neo-con delusion.
I would love the opportunity to read the whole report, as well as the other Iraq report that is floating around DC. I suspect that they tell a very sobering story. Bush has created a nightmare for our nation; a quagmire that we can not move through to victory, nor get out of without paying a high price. We will be paying the price, economically, politically, diplomaticly, and in the real war on terror for years after he leaves office. The only truth that is clearly evident is that the path to victory will not be found by following the current administration.