Friday, April 13, 2007

He didn't know nothing

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Think Progress has an interesting post up on the partisan political context of the Pentagon's announcement that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (both those currently there and those on their way there) will have their tours of duty extended -- which yesterday I addressed here.

Here's what seems to have happened:

On Tuesday, in a speech to the American Legion in Fairfax, Virginia, Bush blamed Congress (the Democratic Congress, of course) for forcing the extension of those tours of duty by failing "to fund our troops" (although Congress is right to stand up to Bush on this -- Bush wants Congress to fund his war but to have no say on how it's conducted, let alone when it will end). The next day, Wednesday, the Pentagon announced the extension.

D'oh!

The White House is playing dumb, claiming that Bush knew nothing of the Pentagon's plan.

Which is a revealing defence, is it not? The White House is essentially saying that Bush doesn't know what's going on, or isn't in the loop. Obviously, it would be unfair to expect the president to know everything about Pentagon policy, but this ignorance defence is pretty lame. Should the commander-in-chief not know about such an important change, one that affects to many men and women in uniform?

Aside from Bush's startling out-of-the-loopness, what this also reveals, it would seem, is that the plan was to put the blame squarely on Congress, not to assume responsibility for the extension. The Pentagon announcement was thus premature. Now it is perfectly clear that the blame falls squarely on the White House and the Pentagon for stretching the U.S. military so thin and for lying to the American people about the "surge" in Iraq. It's not that troop levels are being increased by an infusion of fresh troops, it's that tours of duty are being extended.

Welcome to the warmongering world of human resources, Bush-style.

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