Face-saving strategy


Published: Friday, January 12, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 11:42 p.m.
President Bush's definition of "victory" in Iraq smacks of a desperation-driven, time-buying gesture. But at what cost?
President Bush leveled with the American people on Wednesday evening. He has a new plan for victory, but warned: "Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties.
"The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success," he continued. "I believe that it will."
This from the same president who flew to the deck of an aircraft carrier off the coast of California almost as soon as Iraq fell to invading American troops, more than three years ago, to proclaim "Mission accomplished." The same president who, when warned of a growing insurgency, jauntily said "bring 'em on." The same President who not only dragged America into a war that didn't need to be fought, but once he did, so badly bungled the job that, now, Iraq is riven by civil war.
Now the president warns that if the chaos he created is not fixed, chaos will be the result. His fix, this time: Throwing 20,000 more troops into the fight, an even tougher get-tough approach to Iran and Syria, billions more for rebuilding, and a diplomatic effort to rally other Mideast countries (Iran and Syria excepted, of course) to the cause of a free Iraq.
"Victory won't look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved," Bush said. "There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship."
Or on the deck of President Bush's beloved aircraft carrier, for that matter.
Increasingly, we get the feeling that this president's definition of "victory" is simply not "losing" Iraq until he can get out of the White House, two years hence, and leave the whole bloody mess to his successor. That's unacceptable to the American people and it ought to be unacceptable to Congress.
"This is a dangerously wrongheaded strategy that will drive America deeper into an unwinnable swamp at a great cost," U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, not a Democrat, said of Bush's new strategy. "It is wrong to place American troops in the middle of Iraq's civil war."
Bush's new strategy for "victory" is not a strategy at all. It's a face-saving gesture that Congress and Americans should reject.
Correction An editorial on Thursday, Jan. 11, contained incorrect information regarding a Gainesville High School student who collapsed during band practice. The incident occurred in 2004, not several years ago, and the student did not suffer brain damage.

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