Withdrawing With Honor
Bush's radio address today carried good news: We're winning the war in Iraq, comrades! But he also admitted that the war was long and costly, two things he and his flaks had assured us would be the exact opposite.
But however divorced from truthful history it may have been, Bush's radio address this morning had nothing on his frightfully delusional speech given at the Brookings Instituton's pro-Israel Saban Forum yesterday.
In his proclamation that we were close to winning the war, somehow yesterday's news that a suicide bomber killing 18 people including two US troops, was never mentioned.
The Timesonline in the UK today published a cautiously optimistic but well-balanced and reasonable editorial:
It would be premature, however, to hail an end to violence in Iraq. Car bombs and suicide bombings remain frequent and bloody. At least 296 Iraqi civilians were killed in November and yesterday two US soldiers were killed and nine Iraqis wounded in Mosul, the last urban stronghold of al-Qaeda. Earlier in the day 15 people were killed and 47 wounded by suicide bombings in Fallujah. The Iraqi Army has proved effective in taking on the militias, and the once notoriously corrupt police are slowly being reorganised. But Iraq still lacks effective intelligence to forestall terrorist attacks, and security has not yet improved enough to allow full reign to the massive effort needed to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.
Not a word, either, about al Qaeda's recent fetish for using mentally-challenged girls and women as suicide bombers. This year alone, there have been 35, up from 8 in 2007. Whether or not you want to interpret this as a sign of desperation, this is still an unacceptable trend that should not be swept away by oily reassurances that we are close to winning the war.
Once again, it ought to be reiterated that in the beginning, the only winners were supposed to be the Iraqis.
Now, let's take stock of the current situation in Iraq (and I realize that the truth even these days has a cynical as well as a liberal bias yet nonetheless it's equally dangerous to see the glass as full when it is, in fact, half empty):
The "security pact" that was ratified by Iraq's governing body was done so with more than 70 Iraqi lawmakers deliberately absent from the vote out of protest. The security pact that will keep us there until at least the end of 2011 has only increased tensions between Iraq and its neighbor Iran, even though both nations are ruled by Shi'ite factions.
The training of Iraqi security forces is still marred by sectarian loyalties, corruption on the part of both the Iraqis and American contractors (let's not forget the exact circumstances surrounding the death of Col. Ted Westhusing).
As the Timesonline states, Iraq's intelligence network lacks the wherewithall to anticipate and prevent future terrorist attacks that our own intelligence network can't always anticipate.
The surge that's been credited with reducing violence in Baghdad and elsewhere is due more to a belated response to ethnic cleansing that was all too successful and the insurgents simply taking the fight elsewhere. The news of the security pact's ratification has resulted in an uptick of violence that was raging across Iraq even while Bush was busy burnishing his legacy to the Saban forum.
The only reason we have an alliance with Sunni warlords is because we're handsomely paying them to not kill us.
And given Bush's reduced but still ominous rhetoric against Iran (once again, at yesterday's speech at the Brookings Institution), it should not be forgotten that keeping permanent bases in Iraq makes for a suspiciously convenient staging point for a strike against Iran.