It seems I keep putting the same post over and over again. Bush gave a "major" speech on Iraq today, but he's full of it, Iraq sucks and we are all going to die. Or something similar. For some reason the Washington conventional wisdom seems to be that today's speech was setting the stage for troop withdraws next year. The best example of this I can find comes from Mr Howard Fineman who is pretty much Washington conventional wisdom personified:
With his new “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” the president isn’t really aiming for “victory” in the conventional sense. Nothing is “conventional” in a war against Islamist terrorists, and Iraq will remain a breeding ground for them regardless. Rather, Bush’s goal is to begin a draw down of our troops before next year’s Congressional elections. To do that, he needs the Dec. 15 election in Iraq to go well, with Sunni participation. Then the troop reductions can begin.
The weak “cut and run.” This president, nudged by Karl Rove, will trim and tiptoe. That way, White House advisors hope Bush can pay homage to the Cheney neocon vision and save his presidency at the same time.
But I didn't really hear that in the speech. Of course I was taking a shower through most of it this morning, so I may have missed parts, but Bush did say something along the lines of:
We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory.
Now it seems pretty hard for the President to claim "complete victory" and start to pull troops out. I think that might be a rhetorical bridge too far. My guess is that the Bush team is trying to drop some hints about troop withdrawal to buy some time with the GOP and the media while Bush still beats the "no retreat, no surrender" drum. Not that they can do anything with that time except dig the hole a little bit deeper.