Recognizing the Obvious

I liked this detail in today’s Washington Post:

President Bush, revising his earlier characterization of the fighting in Iraq, said in an interview released yesterday that combat operations are still underway in that country.

In an interview with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service given on Thursday and released by the White House yesterday, Bush interrupted the questioner when asked about his announcement on May 1 of, as the journalist put it, “the end of combat operations.”

“Actually, major military operations,” Bush replied. “Because we still have combat operations going on.” Bush added: “It’s a different kind of combat mission, but, nevertheless, it’s combat, just ask the kids that are over there killing and being shot at.”

Oh yah — and being killed. Don’t forget to mention that. So far, 144 of “the kids that are over there” have died since the end of combat operations. Link.

Its nice that it only took 3½ months for Bush to recognize that one bit of the obvious. I wonder how long it will take him to recognize the rest of the obvious about Iraq that the building of “prosperity and democracy” in Iraq is going terribly, and needs a major rethink. Oh, and probably also lots more resources than the penny-pinching Rumsfeldians seem to want to give it.

It seems like a case of stubbornness and pride beating out common sense here. If they suck it up and devote the appropriate level of resources to Iraq, it will be like admitting that rebuilding Iraq is a lot tougher than they had predicted. They probably worry that people will realize that they were wrong about how the post-war was going to go, and critics like Hagel, Lugar, and Scowcroft (not to mention numerous sensible Democrats) were right — and that would be an intolerable blow to their pride.

I suggest this because I can’t think of any other reason why the Bush administration would be doing such a hack job at something so incredibly important — important for Iraq, for the Middle East in general, for the United States’ security, and for the United States’ position and reputation in the world — not to mention for the Bush administration’s own reputation.

Today’s bombing in Baghdad just puts an exclamation point on this festering problem. To see where Iraq seems to be headed, here’s a grim story about Afghanistan, illustrating exactly where the Bush administration’s half-hearted nation-building leads…