Thursday, January 10, 2008

On this day a year ago, Bush's false promises about the surge

How well I remember January 10, 2007. It was the day that an impeachment forum which I organized (with help) and moderated was held. The buzz at the forum was Bush's speech that night about the war in Iraq.

Thank goodness Dan Froomkin, who blogs for the The Washington Post, took time to remind us of Bush’s promises in today's post, "Promises, Promises."

Here’s what Bush promised:

1. “…[W]e can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas….

2. “To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November.

3. “To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis.

4. “To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs.

5. “To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year.

6. “And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution."

Here's the text of Bush’s speech.

Froomkin adds: “And lest anyone think that Bush didn't take these Iraqi promises seriously, he vowed that ‘America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.’ [emphasis mine]

“A year later, security has undeniably improved greatly -- although some experts suggest that the relative calm is due in part to all the ethnic cleansing that has already taken place. But all that promised political reconciliation? There are no signs of it whatsoever.”

Now what? “…[R]ather than hold the Iraqi government accountable -- say, by threatening to withdraw or pull back U.S. troops -- administration officials have come up with yet another plan....

Thomas E. Ricks and Karen DeYoung write in The Washington Post: ‘In the year since President Bush announced he was changing course in Iraq with a troop 'surge' and a new strategy, U.S. military and diplomatic officials have begun their own quiet policy shift. After countless unsuccessful efforts to push Iraqis toward various political, economic and security goals, they have decided to let the Iraqis figure some things out themselves. . . .

"’In many cases -- particularly on the political front -- Iraqi solutions bear little resemblance to the ambitious goals for 2007 that Bush laid out in his speech to the nation last Jan. 10. . . .

"’Although some progress has been made and legislation in some cases has begun to slowly work its way through the parliament, none of [the major political] benchmarks has been achieved. Nor has the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki taken over security responsibility for all 18 provinces, as Bush forecast it would. . . ‘.” [emphasis mine]

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