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A fool and charlatan in power


“…there is a connection between fools and power.” -Gunther Grass

On January 10, “Bring ‘em on” Bush spun a last ditch effort to shift blame for his incompetence and stupidity to Congressional Democrats. A “surge” – read escalation — of 21,500 more troops to Iraq, he argued, would “help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence.” Bush promised that his soldier surge “would hasten the day our troops begin coming home and put us on the road to victory.”

Bush then turned political desperation into moral imperative: “To step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear that country apart and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale.”

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) charged that Bush’s escalation would compound a series of bloody mistakes that began when Bush misled the nation into war. He introduced legislation to prevent Bush from sending additional troops and spending additional dollars on escalation, without Congressional approval. Congress can stop Bush by cutting his Iraq war budget as Congress did in 1975 to stop President Ford from continuing the Vietnam War.

Johnson staged a phony Tonkin Gulf incident to justify asking Congress to allow him to send combat troops to Vietnam without a congressional declaration of war. In 2002, Bush used WMD as his Tonkin Gulf. He assured Congress that Iraq had dangerous weapons and links to al Qaeda. In 2004, Bush’s own investigation team revealed their absence. In May 2003, he announced “Mission Accomplished.” He added: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” Fantasy or deception?

By his January 2006 State of the Union speech, as violence became uncontrollable, he still was “confident of our plan for victory.” To skeptics, he snapped. “…we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.” Troop level decisions, he declared, “will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington.”

In January 2007, admitting deep problems for the first time, he recalled Generals John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command amd George Casey, Iraq Commander, who opposed increasing troop levels and replaced them with military yes-men.

Spin doctors coined “surge” as a benign term. The proverbial throwing good money after bad – killing and destroying more – better fits Bush’s mission-less escalation of troops.

Congressional hearings may “clarify” Bush’s language. The ubiquitous “supporting our troops” and “war against terrorism” clichés bear no relationship to escalation. Hearings could also focus on four years of consistent Administration dissembling in victory phrases.

Hearings should bring out the obvious: Bush’s policies have made more U.S. enemies, indeed terrorists, in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Iraq, instead of being the frontline against terrorism, has become the center of a strategic nightmare.

With 72% opposing escalation (Gallup, January 9), Bush chose the White House library to appeal for more destruction and violence to remedy violence and destruction. For a President who hates reading as his father despises broccoli, the library option provided a bizarre symbol.

In that library Lyndon Johnson biographies would have shown Bush’s speechwriters that in 1966 LBJ assured the nation that more troops would allow the United States to hold areas they captured. Were Bush’s speechwriters playing a joke when they had Bush repeat Johnson’s lines about more U.S. troops somehow securing Baghdad, a task not done in four years? This time the President means it, even though he assures us that U.S. commitment to Iraq is not open-ended. Logic? How can U.S. troops hold Baghdad without an indefinite commitment?

Cynics say that Bush aimed his speech at shifting blame onto Democrats for refusing to fund the troop increase. “You see,” he might later say, “the Democrats cut off the extra funds that would have promoted a U.S. victory.” As if! If that doesn’t work, he can blame the irresponsible Iraqis.

Bush ignored the bi-partisan and ultra establishment Iraq Study Group, chaired by long time Bush family consiglieri James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN). They declared Bush’s military effort in Iraq a failure. The group, nevertheless, concluded that the U.S. has brought neither democracy nor stability to Iraq, but that the U.S. should not immediately withdraw, despite the fact that their presence makes the region more volatile. Does this confusion reflect conflicts between ISG members who have financial interests in staying in Iraq (like Halliburton and agribusiness companies who are making fortunes in Iraq) and the logic of their evidence?

The ISG report suggested: stop making enemies and talk to Iran and Syria. Bush repeated anti-Syria and Iran slogans. Bush doe not learn.

A Congressional assessment would show Bush waging a war without just cause to replace a terrible dictator with a semi-puppet government that allows for routine violence and chaos.

Does the U.S.-supervised Iraqi government really govern? Moqtada al-Sadr, whose revered father led Iraqi Shiites, leads a large militia. He has a strong relationship with Prime Minister al Maliki. Shiite Iraqis, the majority of the population, afford al-Sadr more legitimacy than U.S. selected politicians. Small wonder! Members of Parliament seldom venture out of the Green Zone; some even reside abroad.

Is the U.S.-trained army loyal to the government? How to test this? An army-militia confrontation would probably lead to the breakdown to the barest smidgeon of order that remains in Iraq.

If the army’s loyalty remains questionable, what would 20,000 more troops accomplish? Last November, Gen. Abizaid rejected Senator John McCain’s calls to send in additional forces. “I met with every divisional commander, Gen. Casey, the core commander, Gen. Dempsey,” said Abizaid. He asked if bringing “in more American troops now, [would] add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq and they all said ‘no.’”

Was Abizaid really saying that more U.S. troops and weapons in Iraq favor their enemies not Iraq’s secular democrats. Those who stand to gain most from increasing U.S. troop presence and weapons, the Shiite mullahs and ayatollahs, like Moqtada al-Sadr, represent the antithesis of democracy and secularism.

Bush’s Iraq adventure illustrates Walter Scott’s adage: “What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” Bush has taken Iraq from Purgatory to Hell. Did the Shiite executioners taunting and dancing around the Sunni Saddam Hussein at his hanging offer an omen for the future?

His former adviser Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz once assured Congress that Iraq would not erupt in sectarian violence. The scholarly Under Secretary — now World Bank head — Wolfowitz swore in August 2003 that “Our coalition will stay until our work is done.” He extolled “the sacrifices that our magnificent troops are making.” Their deaths and wounds were “for their children, and their grandchildren, for our children and our grandchildren, and … for our security.” Ironically, Congress apparently believed him. Now, only idiots and zealots think U.S. military presence can provide security in Iraq.

Wolfie and Bush ignored the huge Iraqi Shiite faction bent on reviving political power of centuries past. Nor did they foresee an Iarqi Shiite alliance with likeminded “militias” in Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Instead of democracy, the U.S. faces a growing threat to build a Shiite Islamic Republic on the Arabian Peninsula.

On August 29, 2003, U.S. forces did not prevent the bombing of the Shiite Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, in which Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim died. US officials blamed Al-Qaeda. Then, they blamed Saddam and his followers.

But Iraqi Shiites blamed U.S. forces for this and the hundreds of subsequent bombings, shootings and kidnappings. Even Ahmad Chalabi, the U.S.-picked future governor of Iraq, held “the coalition forces responsible for security in Iraq. The Americans have taken responsibility for security in Iraq, and I appeal to them to keep the peace.’”

Two hundred thirty thousand U.S. troops and contractors have not maintained security. Outgoing Iraq commander General John Abizaid said his troops confronted a “classic guerilla-type campaign.” Only in Bush’s rosy rhetoric does a 20,000-30,000 troop surge overcome such an obstacle. Why can’t Bush hear the words of notorious lefties like former Carter National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezhinski and Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan? The age of colonialism is over and the United States is acting like a colonial power in Iraq.”

Bush even ignores his April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate, which stated: “The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global Jihadist movement.” The NIE went on: “Al-Qa’ida…is exploiting the situation in Iraq to attract new recruits and donors and to maintain its leadership role.” These findings dictate that Bush reduce, not increase U.S. presence in Iraq. They also reflect majority will. Congress should cut off funds now. One cannot reason with a fool and charlatan.

Progreso Weekly, 18 January 2007

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