All knowledgeable people appear to agree that the outcome in Iraq is going to be an utter disaster, no matter what. The realistic choice lies between awful alternatives.
For politicians, of course, this means the key to success is to make sure the other guy gets the blame.
Now Bush reportedly wants to send 20,000 more troops there for "one last push." Anyone with half a brain should realize that the chance of this succeeding is zero - not one in a billion, but zero. I am not so fondly reminded of the serial escalations in Vietnam during the 1965 to 1968 period. Each time, we now had enough force. Only, Vietnam in truth was going much better than Iraq. There actually was a South Vietnamese government and army, and the mass murder was between organized political forces that could in theory agree to stop.
Joke I saw on-line recently: Q: "What's the difference between Iraq and Vietnam?" A: "Bush had a plan to get out of Vietnam."
Something else I read on line recently noted that you'd need 500,000 to 600,000 U.S. troops in Iraq for there even to be a chance of success. Even at that troop level, we almost certainly wouldn't succeed. But it would at least make the U.S. forces relevant. At lower levels, the U.S. troops simply do not matter so far as resolving the basic civil war issues is concerned.
Bush is cynical enough to play the blame game by making sure that he asks for more than he can get, so that when he doesn't get it someone else gets the blame.
But I gather he is delusional enough to think that the extra 20,000 actually will work, and thus to demand something that he can actually get. But when it doesn't work, I imagine he will be looking for ways to make sure that the Democrats get the blame.
It's not very edifying for the Democrats to respond by saying to themselves: We need to give him more rope, so he will hang himself instead of us. Probably the best they can do, however, at least until he ups the ante further.
Generally speaking, I think Bush's current strategy is one of deliberately trying to provoke the Democrats. That would be one interpretation of the Bolton renomination (sent to the Senate just 7 minutes after he finished meeting with Pelosi), and of his renominating all the most extreme judges that even the current Congress wouldn't approve. Bush is acting just like the little kid who pinches the boy next to him while the teacher isn't looking, with the plan of starting to screech if the other boy pinches back.
Childish, yes, but certainly more sophisticated strategically than anything he has tried in the Middle East.
There's a lot of stupidity in this country, with a disproportionately large share of it lying inside the Beltway. So it will be interesting, though painful, to see how all this plays out.