What to look for in tonight’s speech

President Bush is due to go on-air in about 5 minutes and the word on the street is that this is going to be the most important speech of his presidency thus far. That’s because this is perhaps his last chance to advance an important strategy in the conflict that will define his legacy. Here ...

604926_whitehouse_dark_05.jpg
604926_whitehouse_dark_05.jpg

President Bush is due to go on-air in about 5 minutes and the word on the street is that this is going to be the most important speech of his presidency thus far. That's because this is perhaps his last chance to advance an important strategy in the conflict that will define his legacy. Here are a few items to look for in the speech tonight:

Bush will claim that Maliki has had a change of heart and is promising fundamental change in addressing sectarianism and the worsening security situation in the capital. There's a reason that half of Washington thinks this is ridiculous - it's more than Maliki can promise. But as Anthony Cordesman told FP today, there is no other partner for the U.S. right now.
Look for Bush to claim that if U.S. troops leave now, Iraq will collapse. If they surge, the troops will come home faster. He has to say something convincing in order to convince the 60 percent of Americans who no longer think this war is worth fighting.
Bush will announce additional aid to Iraq. This will likely be for counterinsurgency operations. And it won't be a magic bullet.
The president will also say that Iraqi forces will work in tandem with U.S. forces as a precondition to the surge. Let's just hope they show up. Convincing Iraqi troops to deploy to Baghdad has been a problem in the past. And when they do show up, let's hope they can actually fight.
Bush will no doubt pledge to work with the Democrats and congress. But guess what? The budget has already passed. Bush won't face too many obstacles in implementing at least the initial phases of whatever he proposes tonight.

President Bush is due to go on-air in about 5 minutes and the word on the street is that this is going to be the most important speech of his presidency thus far. That’s because this is perhaps his last chance to advance an important strategy in the conflict that will define his legacy. Here are a few items to look for in the speech tonight:

  • Bush will claim that Maliki has had a change of heart and is promising fundamental change in addressing sectarianism and the worsening security situation in the capital. There’s a reason that half of Washington thinks this is ridiculous – it’s more than Maliki can promise. But as Anthony Cordesman told FP today, there is no other partner for the U.S. right now.
  • Look for Bush to claim that if U.S. troops leave now, Iraq will collapse. If they surge, the troops will come home faster. He has to say something convincing in order to convince the 60 percent of Americans who no longer think this war is worth fighting.
  • Bush will announce additional aid to Iraq. This will likely be for counterinsurgency operations. And it won’t be a magic bullet.
  • The president will also say that Iraqi forces will work in tandem with U.S. forces as a precondition to the surge. Let’s just hope they show up. Convincing Iraqi troops to deploy to Baghdad has been a problem in the past. And when they do show up, let’s hope they can actually fight.
  • Bush will no doubt pledge to work with the Democrats and congress. But guess what? The budget has already passed. Bush won’t face too many obstacles in implementing at least the initial phases of whatever he proposes tonight.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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