The more George talks, the more confused I get. Last week he vetoed the plan to begin withdrawing troops, saying, "It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing. ... All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength."
There are now 185 violent attacks daily in Iraq. The insurgents live in Iraq. What does he think would happen if they knew that troops were withdrawing in 4 months? Stop attacking for four months (which in itself would be a great gift to the Iraqi people)? Or up the attacks to 1,850 once American troops left? Leave their homes? Really, how different could it be? It is possible that the country would descend into full scale civil war once we've left; it's also possible that, once foreign occupation troops are gone, the violence drops off. In either case, it's not as though things are improving as we stay. It's as if he wants to keep occupation troops in Vietnam until all the Vietnamese "go home" and stop attacking us. These Iraqi's live in Iraq! It is not as though uncertainty about the date of our withdrawal is going to make them weary of living in the country and move back to Switzerland to enjoy snow and chocolates.
Bush insisted that "setting a timeline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure." And maybe that's the real point. As long as he doesn't pull out troops, he can continue to believe that he hasn't yet failed. And it may well be true that if only we kept troops in Iraq for enough generations, the violence would die down. Bush is like a kid who wants to have a school year in which to take his SAT. If he has unlimited funds and unlimited time, he may well get this right. But he doesn't.
Bush's refusal to admit failure may turn out to be his biggest in a string of failures in the Middle East. At this point, George is in so far in over his head he doesn't even realize that he's in over his head.