Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Bush way: As Iraq scene worsens, just blame the victims

George W. Bush's Iraq adventure has degenerated into such a quagmire that his administration, in a desperate move, is now blaming the victims of its tragically failed policies instead of taking responsibility for its mistakes and dealing realistically with what the rest of the world has come to recognize as an all-out, civil war. (BBC)

Bush's team believes Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is ineffectual

For example, a leaked White House memo has strongly criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. It "question[ed] his ability to rescue Iraq from turmoil that [has] claim[ed] scores of lives daily, including over 200 killed in a bomb and mortar attack on [Iranian-backed, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's] Baghdad stronghold last week." The document "describes the Iraqi leader as a man who 'wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so' and questions whether he shares Washington's vision for Iraq." The memo asks: "[I]s he able to curb those who seek Shiite hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power?" - as if it is Maliki's task alone to do so. (Reuters)

Syrian political analyst Sami Moubayed notes in the Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) that Maliki and the U.S. will need some help. He observes: "The keys to stability in Iraq...are in Iran, not in Syria. The Iranians know it. They are biding their time and want to be invited by the Americans to enter Iraq, in a manner similar to the green light given to Syria in Lebanon during the 'uncivil war' in 1976." Nevertheless, "Syria - like Iran - is betting on America's helplessness in Iraq. Despite this drawback, America will still need the help of Damascus and Tehran in Iraq." So far, though, the Bush administration has resolutely refused to communicate directly with the governments of Syria or Iran.

In Baghdad yesterday, policemen walked past the ruins of their vehicle, which was destroyed in a suicide-bombing attack

Meanwhile, even as Washington awaits the imminent release of recommendations about what to do about the Iraq mess from a congressionally appointed committee headed by former U.S. Secretary of State and Republican fix-it man James Baker III, a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies advises: "The U.S. cannot simply 'stay the course'....There are no truly good options that can guarantee success, and there are many bad ones." The Washington-based think tank's study is titled "Options for Iraq: The Almost Good, the Bad and the Ugly." It "suggests that the U.S. should avoid unilateral options and seek to negotiate new incentives with the Iraqi government and its allies."

Al-Mahdi militiamen affiliated with the Shiite-Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took part in a rally in Basra, in southern Iraq, on Tuesday

The report's author, Anthony Cordesman, is considered one of the most influential analysts of the situation in Iraq today. He remarked: "It is not meaningful to blame Iraq for the problems that exist - these are mistakes that we made in nation-building....When you send a bull in to liberate a china shop, to blame the china shop for the broken china seems disingenuous, if not misleading." The report he wrote "says that the only way the U.S. can hope to stabilize Iraq is by coming clean with the American public about the long-term costs, risks and patience that would be entailed in achieving that goal. And it urges the Bush administration to listen both to the Iraqi government and America's allies in the Middle East and Europe, rather than continue to treat 'million Iraqis as white rats' in an experiment of transplanting democracy." (Financial Times)

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