Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Iraq: A Pathetic Rationale for Staying the Course

Momentous it was not, but symbolically it was huge: A presidential press conference at the White House in the third week of August.

George Bush has spent the last five Augusts at his Texas ranch, but his presidency is so beleaguered and opposition to his Iraq war policy so great that there he was in the White House press room on Monday, not clearing brush in Crawford, to tell the world that the U.S. won't withdraw from Iraq while he's president.

And that's final, okay?

The Decider said that quitting Iraq "[W]ould give the terrorists and extremists an additional tool besides safe haven, and that is revenues from oil sales. Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster."

Let's break down that statement:
* It is a tacit if unintentional acknowledgement that three and a half years after the invasion, Iraq is a safe haven for terrorists and terror groups that did not even exist when Saddam Hussein ruled. And by the way, there is no connection between 9/11 and Saddam.

* It is an effort to shift attention to a side issue -- oil. He does not acknowledge that the occupation has been such a corruption-ridden mess that even Iraq's vast its oil drilling and refining infrastructure remains only marginally functional and that gasoline is ridiculously expensive and in short supply in one of the largest oil producing nations in the world.

* It is an attempt to convince people that the U.S. can attain its goals in Iraq, which have changed with the seasons since Day One. Attaining the ambitious goals of three and a half years ago was impossible. Attaining the downsized goals of today also is impossible.
Pathetic, isn't it?

Opposition among Americans to the war in Iraq has reached a new high with barely a third of respondents saying that they favor it, according to a new CNN poll.
Just 35 percent of 1,033 adults polled say they favor the war; 61 percent say they oppose it.
A bare majority (51 percent) say they see Bush as a strong leader, but on most other attributes he gets negative marks.

Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence.

Bush's stand on the issues is also problematic, with more than half (57 percent) of Americans saying they disagree with him on the issues they care about.

More here.

I would be remiss if I didn't note yet again amidst my daily anti-war ravings that Saddam Hussein is a very bad man.
Over six months in 1988, at least 50,000 Kurds were killed, many of them victims of the mustard and nerve gas dropped by Iraqi planes. Tens of thousands more were tortured or saw their villages turned to rubble, their fields and rivers and newborn infants poisoned by the chemical attacks.
Saddam has at last gone on trial for his Anfal ("Spoils of War") campaign against the Kurds.

More here.

The New York Times reminds us in an editorial that:

Genocide, nothing less, was Mr. Hussein’s goal. At the time, the world — including the United States — did little to stop it. Mr. Hussein was America’s ally of convenience against Iran, and it was easier for the Reagan White House to look the other way.

President Bush has claimed the murderous campaign against the Kurds as one of his reasons for invading Iraq. With all the hype and hokum, it is easy to become cynical. But it would be yet another tragedy of this war if Americans came away believing that they have no responsibility and no means for stopping genocide.

That was not the lesson in Iraq in 1988. And it should not be the lesson today in Darfur.

The dangers will be even greater for Iraqis if they misinterpret what they learn about Anfal at Mr. Hussein’s trial. Iraqi citizens need a full accounting and a full understanding of their past. But at a time when the country is teetering on the brink of a civil war, it must not be used as another argument for ethnic division and hate.

(Illustration: "George Bush Killing Freedom" by Werner Horvath, 2004)

No comments: