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Shields and Brooks Weigh Chances for Success in Iraq

President Bush's speech announcing a troop influx in Iraq has been met with skepticism by critics. Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the probability for this new Iraq strategy's success.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Want to get some final comments here now from Mark Shields and David Brooks.

    David, the generals, General Trainor, General Odom, used words like "disappointed," "pessimistic," and those were the best words that General Trainor, who had been optimistic for the most part before now. What's happening, do you think?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Well, I think they represent the majority opinion among military experts that I've come into contact with, not the universal but the majority position. General Odom said something which I think is worth elaborating on.

    He talked about the president not defining the enemy correctly, he talked about the complexity of the many different wars that are happening in Iraq. You've got to think about the Iraqi psychology. What's happening in a society where you've got 64, 100 beheaded bodies showing up every morning.

    You're caught in a maelstrom, the whole society is caught in a maelstrom. It's affecting the people in the street. It's affecting the institutions of society like the military, like the government. And given the complex nature of that sort of conflict, the idea that the Iraqi government is going to be able to take the lead in creating a nonsectarian future seems to me not particularly realistic.

    The idea the military, the Iraqi military is going to take the lead in creating a nonsectarian future, or Shia soldiers cracking down on Shia militias strikes me as not particularly realistic.

    And I think the president, in his plan, the solution, or at least the addressing of this problem is there but not in his speech. And that is the U.S. forces are taking the lead. The U.S. is forcing the Iraqi government to do things it doesn't want to do, which it is doing right now. But the president didn't face up to any of that.

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