Don't bother hoping for "peace on earth" in the coming year. Wishes based on unachievable objectives don't come true. As one former president lies in state in America's capital and another is unceremoniously buried in his home town of Tikrit, a third president, still alive and in office, mulls over his next step in the war in Iraq.
Reports of the 3,000th U.S. service member killed in action is unlikely to influence young Mr. Bush's decision, but it should. After nearly four years of a war initiated on fuzzy pretexts and mismanaged on an epic scale, Bush and his supporters--who appear now to consist of his dog Barney and the few hard-liners left in Congress--can no longer credibly scapegoat Donald Rumsfeld or his yes-men generals or the legislature or even the media for Bush's abject failure as Commander in Chief of U.S. military forces, or for his disastrous foreign policy.
After six years of stewardship under Mr. Bush, the instruments of national power of the mightiest state in human history are broken. Our military, "stressed" to the snapping point and bogged down in two third world quagmires, has proven incapable of achieving our foreign policy objectives. Our diplomatic efforts are laughable. We still have the world's largest gross domestic product, but we also have the world's biggest national debt, much of which is owed to China, our closest peer competitor. Our information environment is so polluted it's downright Orwellian.
Our so-called "values" have gone the way of Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. Only very young children and ideological simpletons believe they exist any more. Our religious leaders and conspicuously religious politicians consistently violate the tenets of the "morality" they espouse. Our beloved and vaunted Constitution has turned into a hygienic grooming item at the hands of the Machiavellians in the executive department, and irony spins in its grave every time Mr. Bush and his echo chamberlains talk about "rule of law" and "human rights."
In for a Penny
Indications are that Mr. Bush will choose the escalation option for Iraq. Don't be fooled by claims that a bump in the number of troops in Iraq will be a "surge." Ten or twenty or thirty thousand additional troops can't establish a secure environment in that county in 7 or 8 or 9 months. And don't be misled by pundits who say the proposed troop surge in Iraq is a separate issue from the call to raise the personnel end strength of our Army and Marine Corps. Given the time required to train the proposed 70,000 extra soldiers and marines, it will be 2008 before they will make a difference to the personnel demands of the Iraq conflict, which means they'll come on line just in time to ensure the Iraq fiasco can be supported beyond Mr. Bush's tenure.
This escalation plan comes from the same neoconservative cabal that pushed America into the Iraq misadventure in the first place. Why Bush would continue to listen to their advice is anybody's guess, but having been certain of his course from the beginning, it seems doubtful that he'll decide to change it, and as the 20th logician Bertrand Russell noted, certainty is a core characteristic of "fools and fanatics."
It's uncertain whether wiser heads can prevail in the Iraq strategy decision. The four-star officers at the top of the military chain of command, who have consistently opposed escalation, seem to be rolling over. But then again, our four-stars have an established track record of going belly-up for their political bosses rather than retiring in protest.
Robert Novak notes that many in Congress, including Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska), are adamantly opposed to a troop surge in Iraq.
"It's Alice in Wonderland," Sen. Chuck Hagel, second-ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, told me in describing the proposal. "I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly."
It would be folly indeed to send more troops to Iraq. But I fear Mr. Bush is foolish and fanatical enough that says, "don't change horses in the middle of the stream," even though the neoconservative horse he's been on is dead and sinking, and pulling both him and the rest of the country to the bottom.
And I'm not at all certain that, at this point, Congress can keep Bush from sinking our ship of state.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.