Iraq as the First Step
The second crucial element is, of course, creating Iraqi security forces that give substance to the dream of a new government in Baghdad. For all the empty promises of the past, the president's speech makes it clear that the administration is at last taking this effort seriously, even though the president continues to link "standing up" Iraqi forces so that American forces can "stand down." Again, the purpose of making an Iraqi state is not so we can leave, but so we can continue the work of creating a greater Middle East that we can live with, whose repression does not become terrorist violence.
This idea that we need to create some stability in Iraq so that we can pull our troops out and come home is based in wishful thinking and not in any sort of reality. The people responsible for our invasion of Iraq -- and who are still driving Bush's vision of an epic Greater Middle Eastern War -- have been quite clear that Iraq is but the first step, not the last step, in shaping the entire Middle East into a docile, pro-U.S., pro-Israel region created in America's image.
They are always quite clear about their goal and there is nothing that will make them relinquish it. There is a widespread hope that the U.S. will cease its war-waging in Iraq, but this has never been the agenda or plan of the architects of this war, and 2 1/2 years of bloody, destructive conflict hasn't diluted their agenda one bit. If anything, it has made them even more itchy to get on with the rest of the wars.