Sunday, December 04, 2005

As I have written in the past (again, no links, look it up yourselves), one of the dangers of Bush not having laid out specific targets and benchmarks with which one can measure progress in Iraq is that, when he finally does get around to announcing troop withdrawals, the terrorists will claim he was 'cutting and running' and doing so as a result of their actions.... and Bush, not having previously said under what circumstances he would pull troops out, and with his credibility at all time lows, will be unable to convince America (or the world, for that matter) that he was doing so out of strength.

Well, it appears that Bush's domestic opposition will also be claiming that Bush was pulling out for reasons having nothing to do with his actually achieving his goals, as evidenced by a column by Jonathan Rauch in today's Washington Post. According to Rauch, the lack of popular support for the mission in Iraq will force Bush to start drawing down troops (in the same way the lack of popular support for Vietnam forced Nixon to pull down troops there). Rauch believes the Bush Adminstration will try to gloss over this fact, such as by claiming that the withdrawals were part of a plan to help the Iraqis get their own state in order.

Now, I don't know the extent to which Bush feels the need to respond to public pressure. If I guessed, I would guess that he really doesn't care, that, as with many other people on a crusade, he is convinced that he is right.... no matter how many people tell him that he is full of it. But, if he were someone who, like Rauch suggests, would feel the need to start bringing troops home as a result of political pressure, I think Bush (or at least, the people around him) are smart enough to realize that doing so would be portrayed across the country as a sign of his giving up.

So the choice for Bush would be to suffer bad ratings because he wasn't bringing troops home as the 'people' are demanding... or suffer bad ratings because he was seen as a quitter. Given that choice, I'm pretty confident Bush would choose the former.... which means our troops aren't coming home as long as he is in office.

And all because he wasn't smart enough to lay out benchmarks and timetables for us - and him - to measure success...