Maybe I am just paranoid, but I have been thinking lately that part of Bush’s strategy is to lay blame for the Iraq war on the Democrats. Perhaps he has wanted to change course for some time, but waited for the Democrats to get in control of Congress to do so. That way it looks like he would have “stayed the course,” but those disloyal democrats came in and forced his hand.
If the new strategy (if there is one) does not work out, I have a feeling that all of the blame will fall on the Democrats. I am sure the Republican party has their strategy prepared for a backlash – “look the Democrats could not do any better” and especially the oldy but goody “we would have won but not for the disloyalty of those at home.” Pulling out of Iraq may be the messiest part of this whole affair. This is when we will see the true adverse effects of the war – perhaps total civil war, fundamentalism, Iranian control etc., and it will all occur under a democratically controlled legislative branch.
I find the republican position that we would have won Iraq (and Vietnam) if only people had been more loyal to be problematic. First, no one would deny that if we were to put all of the resources of the U.S. behind the war effort on a World War II scale and fight this war in the most brutal manner humanly possible, then we could probably win. However, to “win” in that manner won’t be much a victory. We would go down as a brutal and ruthless country, and if we were ever in a position of weakness, the world would remember our actions.
Second, this implies that anything is militarily possible, but look at the example of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. There was a country that could keep everything secret from the press and devote as much resources to the conflict as it saw fit and it still lost. There was no press to blame, it was just not militarily possible for the Soviet Union to subjugate Afghanistan.
I have always been opposed to the Iraq war both on strategic and moral grounds. Even if you are the paradigm of the flag waving Republican, you had to see that we were not going to be greeted as liberators. The other day I was watching the scene from Band of Brothers where the American soldiers enter an occupied town, and everyone has come out with flowers and the girls are all going crazy for the soldiers. I thought that this would be the perfect tool to use to explain to the American mentality to Europeans and others. This image is deeply ingrained in the American psyche. It drives American foreign policy as well as American behavior abroad. It will be interesting to see just what it will take for Americans to realize that this is not longer the case (and maybe never really was but for one brief moment).
ADDENDUM - I just came across a detailed exploration of this idea here. Aptly titled: "Tin-foil hat time: Were Bush and Rove "The Producers" of an intentional flop?"