Strategy for Victory, R.I.P.?

A year after unveiling his strategy for Iraq, Bush acknowledges -- at least tacitly -- that the terrorists' plans have worked better.

Published November 28, 2006 2:09PM (EST)

Remember when George W. Bush had a "National Strategy for Victory" in Iraq? A year ago this week, the president announced his plan and had it distributed under a sharp red, white and blue cover. "Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics are flexible and dynamic," Bush said then. "We have changed them as conditions required, and they are bringing us victory against a brutal enemy."

That was Nov. 30, 2005. On Nov. 30, 2006, the president will meet in Jordan with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. His agenda: To ask Maliki if he has any ideas about how to go about winning the war in Iraq.

During a press availability in Estonia today, the president acknowledged that the enemies' plans for Iraq have been going pretty well. Asked whether it isn't fair to call what's happening in Iraq a "civil war," Bush said: "You know, the plans of Mr. Zarqawi was to foment sectarian violence. That's what he said he wanted to do. The Samarra bombing that took place last winter was intended to create sectarian violence, and it has. The recent bombings were to perpetuate the sectarian violence. In other words, we've been in this phase for a while."

So what do we do about it? That's the question Bush says he'll put to Maliki Thursday. "My questions to him will be: What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence? I will assure him that we will continue to pursue al-Qaida to make sure that they do not establish a safe haven in Iraq. I will ask him: What is required and what is your strategy to be a country which can govern itself and sustain itself? And it's going to be an important meeting, and I'm looking forward to it."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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