Folks in the Bush administration just can't seem to get their stories straight. Bush says "we are winning" but has recently abandoned his tagline "stay the course" although he does say his administration will "complete the mission." Rumsfeld, on the other hand, claims the administration is "not backing away from staying the course." And, almost simultaneously, White House press secretary, Tony Snow, jumped on the "abandon the phrase 'stay the course' bandwagon" claiming Bush has only uttered the words 8 times.
But while Bush and company struggle with how to talk about the war in Iraq, the United States Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan think tank, has been doing research on how to actually handle it. Their new report documents the research they have been doing over the past six months which forecasts outcomes for the insurgency in Iraq. And, it doesn't look good. (See this excerpt from the recommendations and conclusions section.)
The administration's ambitious goals ("an Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country"), if possible at all, are attainable only in the very long term. Instead, avoidance of disaster and maintenance of some modicum of political stability in Iraq are more realistic goalsbut even these will be hard to achieve without new strategies and actions and the cooperation of Iraq's neighbors.
Yikes. In fact, US News and World Report calls the USIP report "unremittingly grim." It does, I am afraid, appear to live up to this description. There is even a section called "Descent into Hell." Read the full report here.