Weekend News: Bush Is Wrong

First of all, Colin Powell himself said on TV sunday that things in Iraq aren't excactly "peachy":

Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday said anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world had increased and the insurgency in Iraq was worsening, but the United States was taking action to improve security ahead of elections.

Afghanistan and Iraq, where U.S.-led military forces toppled the former leadership, both plan to hold elections in the next several months.

"We have seen an increase in anti-Americanism in the Muslim world ... I'm not denying this," Powell said on ABC's "This Week" program.

"But I think that that will be overcome in due course because what the Muslim world will see as well as the rest of the world is that in Afghanistan 10 million people who have registered to vote will vote on the ninth of October and bring in place a freely elected president, and I think we're going to do the same thing in Iraq if we stay the course, if we defeat this insurgency," Powell said.

Iraq plans to hold elections in January, but U.S. officials warn that insurgents will aim violence at preventing voting, including shooting at polling places.

"We are fighting an intense insurgency," Powell said. "Yes it's getting worse and the reason it's getting worse is that they are determined to disrupt the election."

"And because it's getting worse we will have to increase our efforts to defeat it, not walk away and pray and hope for something else to happen," Powell said.

... "There is a military offensive under way now, you can see the aggressive action we've been taking in Falluja lately, there is a political and military offensive under way to take back Samarra," Powell said on CNN's "Late Edition."

"What we're going to do over the next several months is to go into these areas and bring them back under government control," Powell said. "Now it remains to be seen how successful we will be, but right now we are moving to have elections at the end of January of 2005."

Even Powell has to speak optimistically to make it sound even half as good as the Shrub made it out to be this week.

Continuing, John Kerry had some choice words for Mr. Bush and his "Mission Accomplished" banners:

Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry ripped into President Bush (news - web sites) on Sunday for saying he had no regrets over his "Mission Accomplished" speech on Iraq and would do it again.

Kerry, expressed outrage after Bush's statement in an interview with Fox News in which he was asked if he would still have shown up in a flight suit for that May 1, 2003 speech aboard an aircraft carrier off the coast of California.

"Absolutely," Bush was quoted as saying in excerpts of the interview, which is to air this week.

Kerry, arriving in Madison, Wisconsin for debate preparations, called the statement "unbelievable."

"I will never be a president who just says mission accomplished. I will get the mission accomplished," said the Massachusetts senator. "That's the difference."

Indeed, Bush has never admitted being wrong since becoming president; not once. It amazes me that people can stand behind a man who makes mistakes yet can never stand aside and admit his shortcomings. Even Bill Clinton, faced with something as unimportant(on a global scandal) as a sex scandal eventually gave in and admitted he was wrong.

Finally, this op-ed at the NYTimes (free sub.) basically points out how Bush has made every important decision on Iraq be dictated by whatever seemed to be popular at the time; he has no true "vision":

In an analysis titled "Inexcusable Failure," Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies details how the U.S. "failed to treat the Iraqis as partners in the counterinsurgency effort." U.S. officials, he declares, are "guilty of a gross military, administrative and moral failure."

That failure continues. All the evidence suggests that Bush officials still think that one more military push - after the U.S. election, of course - will end the insurgency. They're still not taking the task of fighting a sustained guerrilla war seriously.

"Three months into its new mission," The New York Times reported, "the military command in charge of training and equipping Iraqi security forces has fewer than half of its permanent headquarters personnel in place."

At the root of this folly is a continuing refusal to face uncomfortable facts. Confronted with a bleak C.I.A. assessment of the Iraq situation - one that matches the judgment of just about every independent expert - Mr. Bush's response is that "they were just guessing." "In many ways," Mr. Cordesman writes, "the administration's senior spokesmen still seem to live in a fantasyland."

Fantasyland extended to the Rose Garden yesterday, where Mr. Bush said polls asking Iraqis whether their nation was on the right track were more positive than similar polls asking Americans about their outlook - and he seemed to consider that a good sign.

Where is Mr. Bush taking us? As the reality of Iraq gets worse, his explanations of our goals get ever vaguer. "The security of our world," Mr. Bush told the U.N., "is found in the advancing rights of mankind."

He doesn't really believe that. After all, he continues to praise Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, even as Mr. Putin strangles democratic institutions. The subtext of Mr. Bush's bombast is that because he can't bring himself to admit a mistake, he refuses to give up on his effort to turn Iraq into a docile client state - an effort that is doomed unless he can figure out a way to come up with a few hundred thousand more troops.

We don't have to go there. American policy shouldn't be dictated by Mr. Bush's infallibility complex; our first priority must be our own security. And in Iraq, that means setting realistic goals.

On "Meet The Press" back in April, Mr. Kerry wasn't as forthright about Iraq as he has now, at long last, become, but he did return several times to a point that shows that he is on the right track. "What is critical," he said, "is a stable Iraq." Not an Iraq in our image, but a country that isn't a "failed state" that poses a threat to American security.

The Bush administration has made such a mess of Iraq that even achieving that goal will be very hard. But unlike Mr. Bush's fantasies, it's still in the realm of the possible.

Four days to the debates people; set your clocks.
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