Bush: We Lost the Iraq War
Have a look at this story, and see if you can determine what it means for the US mission in Iraq:
The chief of the US military said Wednesday it was too soon to tell who won or lost the Iraqi government's fight against Shiite militiamen in Basra. Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's effort to crack down on the Shiite fighters.I think this means that Bush has admitted defeat in the Iraq War. Mission Failed.
"I applaud the strategic intent here by the prime minister," Mullen told a news conference. "We've been looking forward to ... a time when the Iraqi security forces would, in fact, take the lead and be aggressive in terms of providing for their own security. And so from that standpoint, that strategic intent I think was very positive."
Drawing this conclusion requires a bit of extrapolation. Recall that when the violence first flared in Basra, Bush told us that this was the defining moment of the war. The Battle of the Bulge. Gettysburg.
But Mullen's comments confirm that Iraq's security forces were beaten by the Sadrists. If Mullen thought that the Iraqi government might have gotten the upper hand, he would now be telling reporters that Maliki had won an important victory, and that the American strategy in Iraq was vindicated. Instead, he's telling us that the operation was a nice try on the part of the Iraqi security forces.
Long story short: our side lost the battle that was, according to Bush, the one which wold determine the winner of the Iraq War.
Setting aside Bush's predictably overblown rhetoric, the loss is an ominous sign for the occupation forces. The Iraqi government is simply not ready to take responsibility for the country's security. In fact, they're a lot less ready than Pentagon and administration officials had imagined. I'd be willing to bet that if Bush had been told that there was a chance that the Sadrists could resist the crackdown in Basra, he wouldn't have gone on record as saying that it was the defining moment of the war.
So after five years of running the occupation, the people closest to Bush had no idea how strong the Sadrists are. They have no idea what's really going on in Iraq.
(cross posted at Liberal Avenger, via appletree)