Here are the highlights. “It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed.”
The reference to the carnage ahead “this year” is provocative, too. I took it as a hint that that’s how much longer he’s willing to commit, and how much longer he’s expecting us to give him.
Durbin’s rebuttal was more of the same pitiful tough-love garbage about Iraqis needing to “step up,” as if the problems in the country were due to laziness or too much happy-go-luckiness. They sound like a woman telling her unemployed college-dropout son to get a job.
Meanwhile, unabashed editorializing from the AP.
We’ll have video highlights right here as soon as it’s over. In the meantime, consider this an open thread. I’ve got links coming, but start with this post by surge skeptic Noah Schachtman at Defense Tech. Apparently, not even the surge’s strongest supporters think 21,500 is enough. Or, to quote one critic, “This is not like a Hail Mary pass on the part of the President. This is like calling a draw play when you’re down big in the 4th quarter.”
Update: Drudge has posted the text of the speech. There’s not much “new” to the new strategy. The perfunctory warning to Iran which they know we won’t act on:
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity – and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.
Unless I missed something, there’s only one American politician mentioned by name in the speech. McCain? Not quite.
Update: Another shrewd quote by Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute via a worthy post by Donald Sensing: “The controversy over what to do about Iraq has congealed into two camps: supporters of the President who lack a clear plan for achieving victory, and critics of the President who have a detailed plan for America’s defeat.”
Update: Mistakes in bullet-point format from the National Security Council’s Iraq strategy review.
And here’s the White House fact sheet on the new strategy, also in bullet-point.
Update: Weekly Standard contributer Max Boot utters a welcome heresy in an op-ed for the L.A. Times: the media is not to blame for America’s failure.
If you wanted to figure out what was happening over the last four years, you would have been infinitely better off paying attention to their writing than to what the president or his top generals were saying. If we fail to achieve our goals in Iraq — which the administration defines as a “unified, stable, democratic and secure nation” — it won’t be the fault of the ink-stained wretches or even their blow-dried TV counterparts. To argue otherwise deflects blame from those who deserve it, in the upper echelons of the administration and the armed forces. Perhaps that’s the point.
Meanwhile, Iraqpundit catch Al Jazeera lying nakedly about U.S./Iraqi operations during the siege on Haifa Street two days ago.
Update: The funniest left-wing theory yet for why Democrats are afraid to put ’em on the glass: it’s not that they’re cowards trying to walk a line between their hardcore nut base and the rest of the American, it’s that they’re suffering from the political version of battered-woman syndrome.
Expect it to continue, says Time:
[P]rivately top Democratic Senators, aides and advisers say the political calculation has not changed since before the election. While Bush and his policies are unpopular in the extreme, Americans still support a strong hand at the White House when it comes to national security matters. From the Democrats’ perspective, that means plenty of willingness to criticize Bush on all fronts when it comes to his handling of national security and even the use of his war powers — but, at least for now, no overt efforts to curtail them.
Update: No mention of Saddam in the speech, unsurprisingly.
Update: I’m going to take unilateral action here and suspend our anti-profanity policy to highlight this paragraph from Gutfeld. It deserves to be read unredacted.
But is it a victory if Seery dies? I think so. I mean, it makes me feel better. And, you know, at least I’m honest about it. See, assholes like Seery, and the people who agree with him – pretend to feel bad about the death of our troops. But they don’t give a fuck. No. They need people to die to make their point. It makes them feel smart, and makes their political enemies feel bad. But by saying troop deaths bother them personally – well, that’s just a lie. Seery wants as many troops to die as possible. Because without it, what does he have? Cleary, it’s not grace.
But if Seery died tomorrow, I would only laugh. For me, it would be like the Daily Show, but you know, funny.
Update: While Bush doubles down, Blair quietly cuts his losses. 3,000 is almost half the force still in country.
Update: Outflanked on her left by Edwards, Gore, and Obama, Hillary opts for a tactical retreat.
Update: Pelosi and the House leadership have apparently decided to put ’em on the glass.
The striking new approach took shape yesterday morning during a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), invoked Martin Luther King Jr. as she urged her members against timidity, members who were there said. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), a quiet, hawkish supporter of the war, stunned many of his colleagues when he came out strenuously against Bush’s proposal and suggested the war is no longer militarily winnable.
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense and the party’s leading voice for withdrawing troops, is to report back to Appropriations Committee members today on hearings and legislative language that could stop an escalation of troops, said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a member of Murtha’s subcommittee.
Those plans could attach so many conditions and benchmarks to the funds that it would be all but impossible to spend the money without running afoul of the Congress. “Twenty-one thousand five hundred troops ought to have 21,500 strings attached to them,” said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.)