For those many Iraqis who look on U.S. soldiers and marines as occupiers rather than liberators, President Bush has just handed them more than 20,000 reasons to challenge our "new" strategy.
The insurgents have maintained from the start that our forces are in their country to control their government and, even more important, their oil. There are evil men in their midst, but we should have recognized the depth of that hatred long ago.
The president finallyunderscore the word finallyadmitted mistakes were made, and he takes responsibility for them. In fact, mistakes have been made almost since the war began because he wanted to go after Iraq and Saddam before we had finished the job in Afghanistan. But Bush has steadfastly insisted he was right.
It would be repetitious to count the litany of mistakes made since then with a strutting arrogance by the Bush team.
Yet Bush now contends that we need more troops, not the same level, and that the generals he bowed to for their advice for so long were wrong.
This is Bush's war and his legacy. This represents his last gasp to turn things around, with minimal chance it will work.
He claims to have told Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that this is his last chance to get his house in order. However, Maliki has had hearing problems in the past. There has been no sign that he has the will or the backbone to stand up to the Shiite militias that have wreaked murderous revenge on the Sunni neighborhoodsprimarily in Baghdad.
The president has shunned ultimatums in the past. Now he says the Iraqi Army and police need to take over by November. Until then, you can already write a scenario of increased violence and more shedding of our forces' blood in a sectarian or civil war.
Although he never said it on Wednesday night, Bush is practically daring Democrats in Congress to refuse to fund this risky move. This White House team finds it easy to challenge the patriotism of anyone who differs with the commander in chief.
That same commander has led the nation to this desperate point in our history. After four long years, we need to start pulling out sooner than November and force the Iraqis to face their future alone.
Until that happens, we are the occupiers.