As he searches for a new strategy for Iraq, Bush has now adopted the formula advanced by his top military adviser to describe the situation. "We're not winning, we're not losing," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. The assessment was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections, declared, "Absolutely, we're winning."
Bush also told the WaPo that he has "ordered Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to develop a plan to increase the troop strength of the Army and Marine Corps, heeding warnings from the Pentagon and Capitol Hill that multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan are stretching the armed forces toward the breaking point."
"We need to reset our military," said Bush, whose administration had opposed increasing force levels as recently as this summer.
But in a wide-ranging session in the Oval Office, the president said he interpreted the Democratic election victories six weeks ago not as a mandate to bring the U.S. involvement in Iraq to an end but as a call to find new ways to make the mission there succeed. He confirmed that he is considering a short-term surge in troops in Iraq, an option that top generals have resisted out of concern that it would not help.
Peter Baker, reporting for the WaPo on the interview noted that "A substantial military expansion will take years and would not immediately affect the war in Iraq." And Baker also pointed out that "Democrats have been calling for additional troops for years."
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) proposed an increase of 40,000 troops during his 2004 campaign against Bush, only to be dismissed by the administration. As recently as June, the Bush administration opposed adding more troops because restructuring "is enabling our military to get more war-fighting capability from current end strength."
But Bush yesterday had changed his mind.
So, we see once again that Bush has flip-flopped all over the map on an issue and we see once again, that John Kerry was right. Too darn bad, Bush was so bullheaded back in '04 that he never heeded Kerry's proposal. It does appear that time and time again Kerry is light years ahead of Bush on so many issues, including the fact that we're losing in Iraq.
Contrary to the claim of my nemesis Mr. Crittenden, it does not appear that the WaPo forced Bush to admit that we're losing in Iraq. Whether or not Bush really believes it however still remains to be seen, the flip-flopper in chief, just can't seem to decide on anything and stick to it.
UPDATE: In the blogosphere, Think Progress and Matthew Yglesias note Kerry was right in '04...
Think Progress: FLASHBACK: Bush Said Kerry Proposal to Increase Size of Military Would Make The Country ‘Less Safe’.
Matthew Yglesias: "One point to note is that this is a longstanding Democratic Party idea, something backed by John Kerry."