Weak, even for him:
But before long, the more honest among the surge opponents will concede that Bush, that supposed dolt, actually got one right. Some brave souls might even concede that if the U.S. had withdrawn in the depths of the chaos, the world would be in worse shape today.
It’s not as deliberately cinematic — or as shamefully priapic — as Bush’s landing on the Abraham Lincoln, but the growing archive of congratulatory pro-surge arguments amounts to a prolonged and equally mendacious “Mission Accomplished” cry. I can’t speak for all the strawmen that Brooks has assembled here, but the most sensible objections to The New Way Forward have not, in fact, been set to rest. As everyone knows, the purpose of the surge was not simply to reduce violence, but to enable political reconciliation, facilitate the development of an Iraqi state than can provide basic services, and further enable Iraqi forces to take up the burden of their own security. The just-released GAO report (.pdf) attests in the gentlest possible terms, pointing out that progress along these lines has been vastly overstated and that the “revised” US strategy in Iraq has failed to articulate a “post-surge” vision. (See Steven Simon’s recent Foreign Affairs piece for a related critique.) That is, one of the major flaws in the original invasion — a failure to plan for the invasion’s aftermath — is being duplicated with respect to the surge. Brooks, like others, desperately want to believe that the Bush administration has salvaged itself while no one was paying attention. But before long, the more honest among the surge proponents will concede that they, like Bush, have pretty much been repeating themselves for years.