I've always said that George W. Bush was the last one in town to know when he is stubbornly pushing forward on a lost cause. Hence, he was the last one to still be pushing for Social Security Privatization or Harriet Miers, to name a couple of lost causes from earlier this year. But sooner or later he wakes up and gets of the ship before it goes under.
So that is one reason why I really hope the article in Slate today is true:
Brace yourself for a mind-bog of sheer cynicism. The discombobulation begins Wednesday, when President George W. Bush is expected to proclaim, in a major speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, that the Iraqi security forces—which only a few months ago were said to have just one battalion capable of fighting on its own—have suddenly made uncanny progress in combat readiness. Expect soon after (if not during the speech itself) the thing that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have, just this month, denounced as near-treason—a timetable for withdrawal of American troops.
Hey, if it gets us out of there, then that's just fine with me. We don't need to be pouring any more American lives and dollars down this rathole. Even the Pentagon can see that. And if George Bush wants to take credit for whatever happens in Iraq, that is fine with me too. I've always given Richard Nixon credit for getting us out of Vietnam (whatever other transgressions the man may committed, he deserves credit for being the one with the good enough sense to pull the plug on that war.) Now granted, Nixon inherited a war and Bush would be getting us out of a war that he started, but right now that is still good enough for me.
President Bush would declare his mission complete and begin to pull out—this, despite his public pledge to "stay the course" until the insurgents were defeated.
This theory explains Bush's insistence that the Iraqis draft and ratify the constitution on schedule—even though the rush resulted in a seriously flawed document that's more likely to fracture the country than to unite it. For if the pullout can get under way in the opening weeks of 2006, then the war might be nullified as an issue by the time of our own elections.
Well, there are benefits to our political system. Our Founding Fathers were wise enough to schedule national elections every two years so if someone goes too far off the deep end against the will of the public then political pressure will be enough to make them change their direction. Or, as the New York Times put it in discussing the same story,
But in private conversations, American officials are beginning to acknowledge that a judgment about when withdrawals can begin is driven by two political calendars - one in Iraq and one here
Jefferson, Adams and Hamilton knew what they were doing.
UPDATE: Word out today is that the President won't announce a pullout tomorrow, although he will set parameters that will lead to one by next year whether the insurgents are gone or not. Still an improvement and a concession to reality on his part, but not as good as it looked at first.
UPDATE #2 (11/30): The President gave his speech today, and while he did say that American troops would be taken out of cities (the sites of most encounters) he did not say that a withdrawal was forthcoming. My optimism was premature, but I do believe that by next year, political pressure will cause us to begin to get out.