Bush: No Changes In Iraq
The Associated Press reports late today that “administration officials” have told them Bush has already finished his review of the situation in Iraq, and has heard from all the people he cares to hear from. The verdict? Nothing will change, because Bush has decided that Iraq needs another Friedman Unit to secure the gains from the surge and to allow the Iraqi government more time to do what they haven’t done so far.
Bush appears set on maintaining the central elements of the policy he announced in January, one senior administration official said after discussions with participants in Bush's briefings during his surprise visit to an air base in Iraq on Monday.
Although the addition of 30,000 troops and the focus on increasing security in Baghdad would not be permanent, Bush is inclined to give it more time in hopes of extending military gains in Baghdad and the formerly restive Anbar province, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to describe decisions coming as part of the White House report on Iraq due to Congress next week.
So Bush has decided to stay the course until at least March, when the current tour rotations are up, on the assumption that he will maintain sufficient GOP support to get the additional $50 billion in supplemental money with no strings attached. And he is apparently counting on Mitch McConnell to continue filibustering any attempts at changing course. But McConnell signaled today that he would be willing to change course if Harry Reid walked away from further attempts to withdraw troops now, and instead accepted the reality that an American presence was necessary in the region, not necessarily Iraq, for years. And a new bipartisan House effort is in the making to seek a middle ground between immediate withdrawal and "stay the course” demands from the White House.
Against that backdrop, Anthony Cordesman of the CSIS, John McCain’s advisor on Iraq, issued his latest assessment today and said that there still was a chance for the United States to obtain some degree of success in Iraq - as long as Bush doesn’t do what he is about to do by "staying the course” and playing out the surge.
I'm sure McCain will still fully support Bush anyway.