Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 25, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

ONE DOWN, FOUR MORE TO GO....I didn't catch Bush's speech last night, but the LA Times headline for their main coverage pretty much tells the non-story:

Bush Offers Plan to End Chaos in Iraq

A more accurate headline, I think, would be "Bush Expresses Sincere Wish for Chaos in Iraq to End," since his "plan" appears to be no such thing. Rather, his intent is to keep doing the exact same thing he's been doing all along and hope that he gets lucky or at the least, that things don't blow up completely until November 3.

The "news" in his speech, if I can be allowed to abuse the English language a bit, is that Bush reiterated what Colin Powell and several others have already said: after June 30, the Iraqis will have "full sovereignty." This is obviously nonsense since we intend to keep 150,000 troops on their soil and maintain full control of the Iraqi security forces as well. Matt Yglesisas is puzzled:

I'm not even sure why the president is dissembling about this; Iraqis aren't going to be fooled, and I don't know that Americans are particularly going to care, but raising Iraqi expectations of sovereign control and then failing to deliver sounds like a recipe for a lot of very disappointed Iraqis, all for the sake of a somewhat tidier speech.

My guess is that this is semi-backwards. It's true that Iraqis won't be fooled by this, but for that reason they aren't going to be disappointed either. Americans, however, are going to be fooled by it, and that's all Bush cares about. A hundred million people are going to hear that we're handing over "full sovereignty," and maybe 1% of them will read or hear an explanation of why that's not true. So it's a win for Bush.

The real danger is that it sets up Americans for disappointment, not Iraqis. The Iraqis will shrug their shoulders and continue to agitate for American withdrawl, and Americans will be left wondering why the Iraqis continue to be so ungrateful even though we've turned over full sovereignty to them just like we said we would. Of such things is American self-delusion born.

Kevin Drum 12:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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