Monday, June 12, 2006

Bush Plots with Top Advisors on Iraq at Camp David on Monday

Just when you thought that Americans (and the world) were about to get a break, that Bush-Cheney&Republicans were about to lie down and yell "UNCLE!", and start packing for their move back to obscurity (from whichever State rock they crawled out from), in anticipation of their expected loss in this fall's election (if you believe the news gossips), they have arisen yet again. This time, they were forced to cash in a chit that they had planted early on in the war on Iraq. They had to kill Zarqawi.

The Bush-Cheney WHIG elevated Zarqawi to mythic proportions. Foreign fighters in Iraq have been numbered at fewer than 10% of the total number of insurgents throughout Iraq. Middle East experts have said that Zarqawi was unlikely to have had control over even %5 of all of the insurgents. With Osama Bin Laden off Bush's radar and Saddam Hussein sitting in a courtroom, Team Bush created a boogeyman out of Zarqawi. Ask the average American who Zarqawi was and the response is likely to be "Zarqawi beheaded Nick Berg." Michael Berg, Nick Berg's father, doesn't even buy it.

For Team Bush to give up the big bad boogeyman Zarqawi shows you how much Bush's low numbers are hurting Republicans' fortunes. Zarqawi was always good to wave around on days when Americans were waking up to the sham that is Bush's war on terror. But Bush was running out of conversation-changers. Bush needed something to stop the world, to give him a break from the increasing momentum of his downward spiral. So he sacrificed a high-value target (Zarqawi) and called his war council to gather at one of the perqs of Washington power: A stay at the exclusive 5-star resort, Camp David.

Zarqawi's death is a footnote in history, and changes nothing about the Iraq civil war and the American occupation of Iraq. Bush has bought himself a few days of "misdirection," before we're back to where we were last week: When can the democratically elected, sovereign government of Iraq decide to tell the U.S. to leave?

Last week, Iraq's new Prime Minister al-Maliki said that he believes Iraq's own forces can fully take control of the country within 18 months. Bush stepped in on Friday to squelch that idea before it took root: "It's not yet clear that Iraqi forces will be able to take control of their country's security within 18 months."
So much for Iraq's independence as a sovereign nation, with its democratically elected leaders determining Iraq's fate. Al-Maliki will have no say in when the U.S. leaves Iraq (never), nor will any other puppet that the U.S. puts in power. Bush can't afford an independent Iraq, uncontrolled by the U.S. It would mean Bremer's 100 Orders (all of which made their way into Iraq's constitution by the puppets the U.S. put on Iraq's "constitution writing" team) would be stripped from Iraq's constitution, and Iraq's oil contracts forcing them into agreements with western corporations ripped up. It would also mean petrodollars becoming petroeuros.

In order to turn Iraq into a legitimate success story, for Americans as well as Iraqis and everybody else around the world, we need a change of leadership worldwide. Beginning, of course, with Bush-Cheney. With Bush-Cheney, spreading freedom and democracy around the Middle East and the world means the corporations and rich are free of regulations, restrictions, taxes and environmental compliance. It's got nothing to do with freedom and democracy for ordinary people.

The hastily announced Camp David summit of Bush's war council, to hone a new Iraq strategy on the heels of Zarqawi's death, is a cynical attempt to stem Bush's/Republicans' hemorrhaging numbers. To regain control over the story and their chances at controlling U.S. government. In the complete absence of Democrats, every time the real story catches up with Bush, the media tosses him a lifeline. The media gives him an assist, like now, by letting him spin the story out of Iraq (and Camp David) for a few days. But nothing will have changed. All Bush will have gotten is a breather:
Bush and his top advisers will gather at a cluster of secluded cabins Monday to plan their next moves in Iraq.

The rustic setting in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains might seem better suited for long walks and lazy afternoons, but Bush isn't the first president to take his troubles to Camp David. The heavily guarded 143-acre compound, about 70 miles from the White House, is where presidents go to clear their heads, revive their spirits and think through vexing problems.

Bush will spend most of the day Monday in a series of meeting with his wartime Cabinet and outside experts. On Tuesday, the president and his top advisers will hold an hour-long teleconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Cabinet in Baghdad.

The goal of the two-day session is to look for ways to help Iraq's new government overcome the violence and sectarian strife that threaten to overwhelm it.

"I think everybody views the completion of a true unity government as a moment of opportunity. Everybody also recognizes that there's a window where it's important for them to show success," White House adviser Dan Bartlett said.

U.S. officials said the meeting would include a discussion of Maliki's plans to improve security in Baghdad.

"If we can't do Baghdad, we cannot win Iraq. And I think there is an understanding within the war council that that needs to be the primary focus," Dan Senor, a former U.S. spokesman in Iraq, said on "Fox News Sunday."

Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said he did not plan to ask Bush for more troops, but he did not rule out that option if he concludes they are needed to get control of the Iraqi capital.

"If I think I need more, I'll ask for more," Casey said on the Fox program. "Right now we're not planning on it, but it's possible."

Riiight. Just like when Casey asked for more troops (NOT) at any critical juncture in the past 3 years of war, when Batiste and all of the other generals said more troops were necessary.

As long as Rumsfeld is Secretary of Defense (which will be for the same amount of time that Bush remains in office) there will be no changes to the strategy that keeps the U.S. in Iraq or for anyone to be able to claim that the "war on terror" is over.
Bush said he scheduled the two-day retreat at Camp David to pull his advisers away from their workday routines in the West Wing. The president spent most of the weekend at Camp David, but returned to the White House on Sunday for a screening of "Broken Trail," a cowboy movie that will air later this month on the AMC cable channel.

"It can be distracting down in Washington, with phone calls, and all this kind of stuff," Bush said during a Friday visit to Camp David with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "We can make sure the people involved in senior levels of government stay focused on the task at hand."

At the White House, in meetings in their offices, Bush's staff gets distracted by work. Uh huh.
The symbolic backdrop also gives the Iraq strategy session an aura of historic significance, even though it is not expected to produce any policy shifts or major new initiatives. The issue of troop withdrawals isn't even on the agenda.

"This is not a meeting about draw downs," Bartlett said. "It's a meeting about how we can best help the Iraqis secure their country."

This Camp David meet-up is for synchronizing the White House's public relations' campaign. Bush needs to sell the fiction that Iraqis are securing their country at the same time Bush must keep the U.S. occupation of Iraq open-ended (permanent), increase the number of troops stationed in Iraq (to put down the growing insurgency), ALL THE WHILE spinning the increase to the American people as "movement on the path to withdrawal." With the meetings at Camp David, they get to hide the guest list (Hill and Knowlton redux, anyone?), and Bush, an "in the way," disengaged, useless puppet, occupied in camp activities (making lanyards?):
"That's part of the magic of Camp David for presidents - controlling people, controlling the agenda and having the president on his own territory," said Kenneth Walsh, a White House correspondent for U.S. News and World Report and author of "From Mount Vernon to Crawford," a book about presidential retreats. "There's been a lot of history made at Camp David."

And there's plenty to do besides work. There's a swimming pool, trails for jogging, hiking and mountain biking, tennis courts, a bowling alley, a shooting range, a weight room, a basketball court, a batting cage and a climbing wall.

Nixon's daughter, Tricia, once likened Camp David to "a resort hotel where you are the only guests."

Some presidents like Camp David more than others; Bush is a big fan. He's visited more than 100 times since he took office. He went in 2001, days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, to plan the nation's response. He was back again in 2003 to plan the invasion of Iraq.

Camp David is probably the only place that competes with Bush's Texas ranch for his affection.

"It is a beautiful place," he told Walsh for the book on presidential retreats. "It's like the ranch. You can actually walk right out of the house and go do something, without motorcades and all the folderol that goes with being the president."
"You can actually walk right out of the house and go do something...."

"....without motorcades and all the folderol that goes with being the president."

As long as it's not work on behalf of the American people.

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