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Bush speech: See it before you can hear it

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By mmguestblogger  •  January 10, 2007 06:59 PM

Bush speech pre-game. It’s like ESPN Gameday, but with a disappointing lack of Kirk Herbstreit.

Tonight at 9 p.m., the President will admit mistakes in Iraq or lay out a plan for victory, depending on which side of the aisle you’re seated.

Let’s go over what we actually know before tonight, which given the leaks, previews, and pontificating, is pretty much everything. In fact, I think Allah actually gave the speech this morning:

…acknowledging mistakes, emphasizing that the mission is too important to fail and that withdrawal would “embolden” our enemies, asserting that Maliki is committed to peace and the Iraqi army is much improved but both still need the help of U.S. troops temporarily to secure Baghdad, describing some of the benchmarks they’ll have to meet, and finally the perfunctory appeal to national unity that he knows won’t happen. The only surprise will be if he mentions Saddam.

Maybe not. Do we know where the speech will be given? It’s the little things that keep me going.

1. How many new troops?

21, 500.


2. Where are they going, exactly?

17, 500 to Baghdad, 4,000 (Marines) to Anbar. More, from a conference call with Tony Snow:

The President will commit 5 army brigades to Baghdad to help the Iraqis secure Baghdad. The city will be divided into 9 districts. There will be 2500 Iraqi troops and about 600 US troops in each district. They’re going to go door to door and stay 24/7. We’re not going to just clear and leave, we’re going to leave and hold. We will help with transportation, logistics, etc.

Bush, before he says it (from excerpts):

I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq’s other leaders that America’s commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people – and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this.

3. What will Iraqis be expected to do?

Maliki has made promises:

The president will tell Americans that he has won a pledge from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki to beef up his military and commit $10 billion to stabilize and rebuild the country, the officials said.

Today, 50 Sunni insurgents were killed in Baghdad by a combo of American and Iraqi forces, but what of Maliki’s willingness to deal with Sadr and the Mahdi army?

Several al-Maliki aides and confidants have told The Associated Press that the prime minister plans to focus his troops, with American backing, on Sunni insurgents in western Baghdad at the outset of the drive. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the plan had not been disclosed.

Al-Maliki, the associates said, then plans to challenge al-Sadr to disarm and disband his militia because there would no longer be a reason for them to roam the streets with Sunni Arab insurgent forces crippled.

Bush, before he says it:

I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq’s other leaders that America’s commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people – and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this.


Update:
This is what I was looking for earlier and couldn’t find, but I knew I heard it somewhere:

Iraq’s prime minister has told Shiite militiamen to surrender their arms or face an all-out assault by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, senior Iraqi officials said Wednesday, as President Bush said he will commit an additional 21,500 American combat troops to the war.

Under pressure from the U.S., Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to crack down on fighters controlled by his most powerful political ally, Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric, according to officials. Previously, al-Maliki had resisted the move.

“Prime Minister al-Maliki has told everyone that there will be no escape from attack,” a senior Shiite legislator and close al-Maliki adviser said. “The government has told the Sadrists: ‘If we want to build a state we have no other choice but to attack armed groups.’”

4. Taking over security and quelling sectarian violence. Are those the benchmarks we’ve been hearing so much about?

Yes, but there are two others:

…passing and implementing legislation for oil revenue sharing among all ethnic and regional groups, and bringing untainted, former Baath Party members back into government, and other moves aimed to bring about reconciliation.

6. Is all this gonna get done by November?

Bush wants to turn over main control of all provinces by November, but…

The official cautioned that the November date for Iraq control does not mean U.S. troops would withdraw by then.

Snow said on the conference call, “This is an opportunity now…We hope that the Iraqis are in primary charge of all the provinces by November. That obviously will have consequences (for U.S. troops),” but he declined to speculate on the specifics.

Much more from the conference call, over at RightWingNews.

A round-up of wacky, “symbolic” Dem reaction to all of this.

The White House put out a “Highlights of the Iraq Strategy Review” document, but it’s in pdf. Blech.

Pages 7, 10, and 11 (to which I cannot individually link, ahem) are helpful. Page 7’s good for everyone, but especially exciting for Lefties. It’s a point-by-point admission of mistaken assumptions from the beginning of the mission as compared to how things actually panned out. For instance:

“Majority of Iraqis and Iraqi leaders see their interests as best advanced by a unified Iraq” (then) vs. “While still committed to a unified Iraq, many Iraqis are also advancing sectarian agendas– as hedging strategies, pursuit of narrow interests, and due to history.” (now)

Pages 10 and 11 are “Key Operational Shifts” (then and now) and “Key Tactical Shifts” (for Americans and Iraqis). A ton of analysis on all of this will be forthcoming, with criticism from right and left undoubtedly, but this document is helpful for getting your head around the basics of what’s being proposed.

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