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January 08, 2007

Marketing 101

By Carl Goldstein

So Bush will reveal his new Iraq "surge" strategy on Wednesday. Never mind that by all accounts even many senior officials within the administration don't believe it will accomplish anything. Never mind that it took sacking John Abizaid and George Casey, the Centcom commander and the the top general in Iraq respectively, because of their less than enthusiastic embrace of escalation.

With 140,000 troops plus or minus in Iraq over the last three-four years having proven unable to control the violence, plus the expenditure of $18 billion on reconstruction programs, we're now supposed to believe that adding something like 9-15,000 new troops and another billion or so dollars for a jobs program is going to turn things around.

How stupid do they think we are? What's really going on is that Bush is congenitally incapable of admitting failure. So despite the decisive rejection of the war at the polls in November, the Iraq Study Group's forthright recognition of the war's "grave and deteriorating" condition, the escalating carnage in Baghdad, he's spent the last few weeks deciding to make a decision.

With "defeatist" thinking banished from White House counsels, they have apparently cobbled together a plan that passes for "new" only in the marketing sense. But such thinking is par for the course in an administration that waited till September (in 2002) to "rollout" the case for the upcoming war because -- in then-chief of staff Andy Card's immortal words -- "you don't launch a new product in August."

Meanwhile, Iraq has descended into a sort of Darwinian hell in which only the vicious thrive. The government proved itself to be no more than an instrument of Shiite death squads when Saddam Hussein's hanging turned -- with American complicity -- into a macabre and brutal pagent aimed at celebrating Iraqi Shiites' ascendancy.

In reality, the hanging became a huge propaganda coup for Sunni insurgents. The hangman were literally members of Moktada Al-Sadr's Mahdi army, and based on the snuff film-style video taped by an Iraqi official witness's cell phone, only Hussein comported himself with a modicum of dignity. Sunni's throughout the Middle East are now remembering Saddam Hussein as a martyr, rather than the murderous tyrant he was.

Heckuva job, W.

Posted by Carl at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)