The combinatation of a number of items in the news in the last week or so underscores the extent to which the invasion of Iraq has become the biggest cluster f*ck in United States foreign and military policy history. The first was Bush's widely quoted remark that it would be up to 'future' Presidents and Iraqi governments to determine if and when there would be zero US troop strength in Iraq. Now, admittedly, it might be argued that future plans for Mideast security might entail something like a permanent US base there as we have in some of our other allied states, but it's pretty clear from the context that wasn't what was meant. Also, in the same week, Rumsfeld was reported as saying (and this is slight paraphrase)that he "would not speculate" as to when troop withdrawals might begin, referring back tot he mantra that commanders on the ground over there would make that decision. Conclusion: they have no plan for pacification of Iraq, they have no clue, they have no idea. It's all gone so far wrong from their cloud-cookoo-land fantasy of glorious liberation they are just going to hang on until the end of Bush's reign and then dump it on the unfortunate successor. (And right now, I'm sticking by my speculation that by that time they will have stolen everything they desire so they'll be happy to hand over a ruined country and failed war to Hillary Clinton--).
Meanwhile, I've heard some very credible reports from journalists and others recently back from Bagdad that the situation there makes Beruit at the height of the Lebanese civil war look good. It has become a city made up of tribal and neighborhood compounds walled and wired off and armed against their neighbors and any strangers, and safe for no one.