Bush’s new plan on Iraq has a number of holes in it.
We’re told that in the past, American troops would enter a dangerous neighborhood, sweep it clean, but then leave prematurely, allowing “bad guys” to return. (The using the term “bad guys” is amazing: Bush cannot even define whom he’s fighting in Iraq).
What will be different this time around is that American troops would enter, sweep the place clean and then stay (for which you need additional troops), not allowing “bad guys” back. The question arises: what is going to happen to these “bad guys”? Are they going to simply disappear if not allowed back? What will prevent them from doing so after the troops leave eventually, say, one year from now?
But the most serious flaw of the plan is its over-reliance on the al-Maliki government. We’re told again that in the past, Maliki didn’t allow American troops enter the Sadr City to fight militia loyal to the radical cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. Now, Maliki is expected to lift this “restriction.”
Really? al-Sadr provides Maliki with 23 seats in the parliament and with five ministers in the cabinet. al-Sadr isn’t simply part of Maliki’s political base; he is this political base. Why should al-Maliki commit political suicide by turning his back to al-Sadr?
OK, as every politician, Maliki can be persuaded or bought (or both). But then another question arises: is his government still relevant? Is it anything more than a bunch of scared “good guys” sitting in the Green Zone and pretending that they have control over the “young democracy” Bush stubbornly keeps calling Iraq?
If Bush didn’t tell us everything; if there is something else going on behind the scene (like secret negotiations between feuding parties), then the troop increase has a chance to temporally stabilize the situation on the ground. But if what he told us is all he’s got, his plan is doomed.