Thursday, January 11, 2007
Bush Blind to Realities of Iraq
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.
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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