October 30, 2006

Perhaps we'll stay, but not on this course.

Many of you have probably heard Bush's standard go-to phrase when talking about the plan for Iraq. When asked about an exit timetable, or when he figures the mission will really be accomplished, he insists that no timetable is necessary and the United States will "stay the course". When reports inquire upon the ultimate goal of the mission, his response is to the effect of "victory".

This ambiguous and arbitrary rhetoric may be acceptable to the jingoistic crowds of America immediately following 9/11, but is no longer enough today.

The occupation of Iraq needs to be working towards some specific conclusions or it will fall apart and become one of the most disasterous foriegn policy farces in recent decades. Being that most Americans understand that the efforts being made at present in Iraq are ineffective, Bush is finally recognizing this fact and is changing his rhetoric to reflect that.

The administration has decided to Cut and Run from 'Stay the Course'. The media wizards and press represtentatives in the White House are no doubt working on creating new nomenclature to express the same ideas in a new way. In the mean time, Bush has already denied ever saying "stay the course" at all:

“Listen,” Bush insisted “we’ve never been ‘stay the course,’ George. We ... will complete the mission. We will do our job and help achieve the goal, but we’re constantly adjusting to tactics.”

I can't wait to see The Daily Show's take on this. I'm sure they will have a long montage of clips with Bush using those very words.

As for me, I certainly disagree with "stay the course". However, the media term designated to oppose the Bush plan, "cut and run" does not appeal to me either. Invading Iraq was certainly a mistake. The entire operation has been longer, more expensive, and more costly than ever expected, not to mention the missing weapons of mass destruction. But leaving now would not solve the problem. If the United States was to pack its bags and return home tomorrow, Iraq would likely fall into greater chaos than it is in today. Like it or not, the fact is simply that we're already in this mess and we can't just sweep it under the rug.

For the U.S. to save face and remove itself from such a volatile situation, a timetable must be established. Major landmarks must be set for the slow but sure removal of troops, the establishment of an Iraqi peacekeeping force and a stable government that can withstand the conflicts of differing cultures and ethnic groups. Guidance for development should come not from the U.S., but instead from the U.N. (if they'll take it) which could utilize a multilateral peacekeeping force to encourage stability, growth and development in the new Iraq. Washington must accept that the U.S. is not capable of winning "hearts and minds" in the Middle East by itself, especially not on the track we are on.

A new plan for Iraq is needed, and we need it now. The Bush administration has made it very clear that they have little intention of changing their current plan, whether you listen to today's rhetoric or yesterday's. This is why I'm voting Democrat this election. Not because I am a Democrat (not a Republican either. I'll explain another time.), but because I'm simply voting for change. We need some new people with new ideas and new strategies in Washington to try to solve this Iraq debacle. The ones there now sure aren't doing it.

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