Is Bush beginning to position himself so that he can give into calls for a timetable while saving some face?
That’s certainly what it looks like from the lede of this article.
NEW YORK, April 24 — President Bush said Tuesday that the verdict is still out on whether the Iraqi government can make the political changes necessary to end sectarian violence as he offered a mixed report card on the progress of his new Iraq strategy.[Emphasis mine]
Hear that? It’s the Iraqi government’s job to end sectarian violence, not ours. This whole mess their country is in is their responsibility.
This is the same kind of disturbing rhetoric we’ve been hearing from the Democratic side since 2006. Now don’t get me wrong – obviously, I favor withdrawal. But to frame the mess Iraq is in as somehow being the fault of Iraqis or it being their responsibility to “step up” is just insulting. It’s not that Iraqis haven’t been throwing enough elbow grease at this.
We destroyed their country, and put them in this horrible position, and no we’re admitting that we just can’t see a way out of it except that our continued presence is making things worse. It’s an ugly truth, but lying to ourselves about this is even worse.
But I suppose Bush can tell himself whatever he wants if it opens us up to getting out of there. He can even give strangely callous and disconnected assessments of what’s going in Iraq, like below:
“The good news is that sectarian death is down in Baghdad,” Bush said. “The bad news is that spectacular car bombs still go off, in a way that tends to shake the confidence of the Iraqi people that their government can protect them.”
Car bombs do a lot more than shake confidence – it’s not like threatening graffiti, it’s a weapon that’s killed both Iraqis and our own troops. There’s something really weird and a little disturbing about the president’s insistence on framing this as primarily a public image issue.