Thursday, January 11, 2007

 

Bush Blind to Realities of Iraq

Dennis Healey's famous quip about the first thing to do when in a hole is to stop digging was never more apt than it is to George Bush's reaction to the Iraq Study Group's advice to seek a solution based on withdrawal and regional diplomacy. Given that a large majority of Americans now disapprove of his handling of the war and that the Democrats recently won the mid term elections based on the implicit premise of withdrawal, Bush's recent announcements smack of fantasy laced with desperation.

His decision to pour yet another 21.500 troops into Iraq in an effort to control sectarian fighting is almost certainly too little too late. US generals in 2003 advised a force of several hundred thousand would be needed to topple Saddam and secure the country but Rumsfeld insisted he could manage with a fraction of that. Since then the situation has worsened and the numbers needed to win the war are probably politically impossible to send. Moreover, the idea that the Iraqi army will soon be able to take over responsibility for internal security is undermined by the fact that it has almost certainly become an instrument of Shia militias.

Bush has manufactured one final throw of the dice but the judgement of most experts is that the gamble will end only in many more deaths for US troops and thousands more Iraqi civilians. This is what happened when Nixon was elected in 1968 on a ticket to end war in Vietnam and this desperate, flailing last round effort to land a knock-out blow will end with the same result.

The ill-fated mission is effectively over but Bush refuses to accept this and throws thousands more lives into the shredder that is Iraq's civil war. US Polls register great resistance to the White House but I suspect it won't be until Washington fills with demonstrators and the campuses with anti-war students that Bush will finally accept his reality does not match with that of his leading generals not to mention most of his fellow Americans. I just wonder how Bob Gates, Rumsfeld's successor who was also a member of the ISG, is going to swallow this dangerous policy of an ostensibly temporary but in reality open ended 'surge' in troop deployments.

As for Blair, he seems like Bush, not willing to see the facts. Yesterday he insisted Basra does not suffer from the same problems as Bagdhad but the civil war seems as endemic in Iraq's second city as in its first. It will be down to Brown in the end to close this sorry chapter in British foreign policy and create some necessary distance between London and Washington.

Comments:
They sent 500,000 troops to kick Saddam out of Kuwait but want to run the whole of iraq with far less. The numbers don't seem to add up to me.
 
Bush is the best iraqi dictator yet. look how many peoples death he has caused compared to saddam. so much for being able to give the country back to saddam. he was probley the only person in the world who could control it and not have all this civil non-war bullshit.
 
At risk of interupting Dave's tribute for the murderer Saddam...Bush is right of course, and his point is well made. Do any of the anti-US brigade have any serious alternative? I haven't heard it. The mistake was using kid gloves in the beginning, and not sending in enough troops three years ago. I hope we can increase our troops numbers now, and get properly stuck in.
 
Michael
Yes,troop levels were nowhere near sufficient from the start but I differ from you in that I think we should not have invaded in the first place. Entering the volatile sphere of violent activity often means you lose control over where it will lead and this was a tragic leap in the dark which has punished those involved grievously.
 
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