I've often wondered if an unpublicized aspect of President Bush's Iraq strategy has been to ensure that the war in Iraq does not end. I've thought this for a couple of reasons:
1) In the run-up to the 2004 presidential election here in America, Karl Rove, the Bush Administration's primary political strategist, suggested that Republicans, "Run on the war." If one is to run for (re)election on the premise that one is a great war leader and protector of the American people, it helps to have an actual war in the works and, preferably, that would be a war in which one could demonstrate a measurable trend toward a definable victory. It was no mere coincidence that the much-lauded elections in post-Saddam Iraq were scheduled for January of 2005, just a few short months after the elections in America. This way, as of November 2004, Rove and Bush could play on Americans' senses of optimism vis-à-vis the promise that the first free elections in Iraq would mark the turning point that would vindicate Bush for his decision to depose Saddam. I think a good many Americans, including some war skeptics, concluded in 2004 that Iraq was Bush's war and having invested much in blood and treasure and gave Bush the benefit of the doubt and gave him their votes and a very narrow electoral victory. This same strategy could be repeated in succeeding election cycles as long as a) America is at war during campaign season, b) the administration maintains a sense that the war can be won to the great benefit of America, and c) the administration propagates the idea that it is the only administration with the wherewithal to ensure such a victory.
More after the jump...
2) Endless war would be music to military contractors' ears, as their fortunes are directly tied to America's "need" for munitions, hardware, software, and services. Vice President Cheney's cozy relationships with his ex-employer Halliburton no doubt led to Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown, and Root, being selected for lucrative no-bid contracts to provide everything from laundry and cafeteria services for our soldiers in Iraq to repairing and rebuilding Iraqi oil industry infrastructure. There was a time when these tasks would have been carried out by military personnel and the Army Corps of Engineers, but, thanks to Republican efforts to privatize every last shred of government, these tasks are no longer performed for the sake of satisfying needs of the state, they are now beholden to profit motive.
I have floated these ideas in various incarnations on this site and in comments on many other sites and often they have been derided as unreasonably paranoid or unrealistic. I'm not sure I want to believe them myself, but I'm also coming up short on plausible reasons why the occupation of Iraq has been mishandled from square one and, after so much time, no significant change in strategy has been offered by the Bush Administration, save the Surge, which is really just more of the same. At this point, I can only assume that for some reason not made public, the occupation of Iraq is working out exactly the way its architects intended it to. There was no shortage of strategists and experts who warned, in the pre-invasion days, that the invasion and occupation forces were inadequate to deal with the inevitable post-Saddam power vacuum.
This brings me to another possible explanation for the unending war.
3) If a piece by the Dallas Morning News's Georgie Anne Geyer is to be believed, Bush, during a recent meeting with "friends" from Texas (read: big campaign donors from Texas?), "made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of 'our country's destiny.'" Bush has already said that cleaning up Iraq would be the next president's problem, but, if true, the above quote proves that Bush never intended to win in Iraq in any formal sense.