Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Seeing the World Through Bush-Coloured Lenses

Reading the sad news today that 5 Brits were abducted in Baghdad, 10 more U.S. soldiers were killed and 33 Iraqi civilians died in two bombings, I couldn't help but think about what a deplorable nightmare Iraq has become.
May 2007 has been the bloodiest month of the year for Iraqis, and the worst month for American troop deaths since November of 2004. The numbers have been widely reported, and the facts are not in dispute. But as usual, the devil is in the interpretation of said facts. Far be it from me to suggest that the facts surrounding Iraq speak for themselves. For if they are speaking, George W. Bush seems blithely unaware of their message. But then again, facts have never stood in Dubbya's way before, so....why start now?

The Facts:

From a recent CBS/New York Times poll:
72% disapprove of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq
61% feel the US should have stayed out of Iraq
20% feel the troop surge will make things better in Iraq
63% support a timetable for troop withdrawal in 2008

From a recent USAToday/Gallup poll:
61% oppose US troop surge in Iraq
72% feel GWB does not have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq

Bush's Interpretation:

"I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, `Get out, you know, it's just not worth it. Let's just leave.' I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well."

Bush clearly has a lot invested in this war, both financially and politically. So his defensive attitude isn't entirely surpising. But the way in which he casually dismisses the 63% of Americans who support withdrawal as "a handful" is truly astonishing. Either he is willfully attempting to deceive the public, or he is clinically delusional. The latter option is only partially in jest. If not for delusion, how else does one explain the fact that the US is in the process of building a $592 million dollar new US Embassy in Baghdad? At two thirds the size of Washington's National Mall, it will be the world's largest and most expensive foreign mission. Nevermind the fact that it is being built in the middle of a warzone, and will likely be a target for extremists for years to come.
"What you have is a situation in which they are building an embassy without really thinking about what its functions are," said Edward Peck, a former top U.S. diplomat in Iraq. "What kind of embassy is it when everybody lives inside and it's blast-proof, and people are running around with helmets and crouching behind sandbags?"

And finally, a thought for those who, despite all the facts, still support the Iraq war as part of Bush's fairy-tale "Global War on Terror". Earlier this month, NYU professor and foreign policy analyst Marilyn B Young made this astute observation:
"[I]n Iraq, it's not the terrorists - I mean, terrorists - anyhow, who are they? Terrorism is a tactic. It's not an ideology. It's not a person. It's a tactic that groups use."
When one views the GWOT from this perspective, its futility becomes apparent. Wars are fought against people and nations. But how do you wage a war against a tactic? The war in Iraq was Bush's attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole - to turn an inherently unwinnable war againt "terror" into a much more palatable war against Saddam Hussein. The ongoing kidnappings, bombings, and murders are sad testimony to the shortsightedness of Bush's plans.


knb said...

But how do you wage a war against a tactic?

You cannot of course. In fact, I'd argue that the "war" on it, has legitamised it and obviously increased it.

You raise the fact that Bush may be clinically delusional. I'd say ideologically delusional. Aside from what he has invested vis a vis reputation and legacy, I really believe that he thinks he "knows" what no one else does and what he is doing is right.

It's unbelievably sad, in fact it's unbelievable, period.

It really is difficult for me to understand how the man is still there, though I cannot say that I understand the US system.

Red Canuck said...

In fact, I'd argue that the "war" on it, has legitamised it and obviously increased it.

knb - Indeed, you're absolutely right. Terrorism is a tactic employed by people who are driven to desperation by a perception of extreme oppression or persecution. The entire American presence in Iraq combined with the staggering number of Iraqi civilian casulaties has likely created the kind of hatred amongst otherwise moderate people that is required to fuel acts of terror.

I don't really understand how the Bush administration has managed to survive 2 terms either. In any other job, someone as incompetent and as frequently incorrect as Bush would have been sacked long ago.

knb said...

What concerns me red, is how it's spread around the globe, but specifically in the region.

Afghanistan, well there is so much at issue there and now we see the "template of tactics" being employed.

The Senlis Council report yesterday was concerning. Josee Vernier simply does not address what they say with any credibility.

I hate the damn, pat phrases that go along with these issues, but their report re' hearts and minds, is really concerning to me.

I reluctantly bought into that mission initially, but now, I just think there is too much damage being done in Iraq and it's transferring.

Not to be melo-dramatic, I honestly believe that Bush has messed up this planet in a way that will not be calmed in my lifetime.

Red Canuck said...

knb - I feel your pain. I often wonder how different this world would look if Al Gore had become president (as he rightly should have) in 2000.

Re: The Senlis report, it's interesting that they criticized Canada for falling into line with the US position of forced poppy crop eradication in Afghanistan. 'Cause if there's one way to win the "heart and mind" of an impoverished Afghan farmer, it's to to forcibly destroy his only means of existence. And why? To promote the other ongoing, endless, unwinnable American war - the "War on Drugs". Hopeless.

knb said...

I often wonder what it would have been too, under Gore.

Weird isn't it? An entire planet...and one man.

Red Tory said...

It’s almost impossible not to go on and on about what a failure Iraq is on almost every level. An ABC poll released the other day showed The number of Iraqis who say their own life is going well has dipped from 71 percent in November 2005 to 39 percent now. Only 18 percent of Iraqis have confidence in U.S. and coalition troops, and 86 percent are concerned that someone in their household will be a victim of violence.

Slightly more than half of Iraqis now say that violence against U.S. forces is acceptable up from 17 percent who felt that way in early 2004. More than nine in 10 Sunni Arabs in Iraq now feel this way.

While 63 percent said they felt very safe in their neighborhoods in late 2005, only 26 percent feel that way now.

Oh, and a majority feel that life was better under Saddam than it is now.

And yet... there will still be those who support this war and feel that "victory" is possible. Urgh.

Red Canuck said...

RT - thanks for those numbers (I think!). It just gets more depressing the more I read and think about it.

That last statement about a majority of Iraqis feeling life was better under Saddam pretty much sums it all up.

If you get a chance, check out the Marilyn B Young link. She was on Bill Moyers Journal, and discussed the lessons not learned from Vietnam....scary stuff to be sure.