Bush Still Doesn’t Get It

In a televised speech on the “new direction” in Iraq, President George W. Bush simply tried to feed us more of the same tripe we’ve been refusing for years. The “new direction” is, essentially, stay the course, only with 21,500 more soldiers with targets on their backs. The most frightening thing is he doesn’t see that he is the best recruiting tool Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have.

Even before Bush took the microphone for his address, U.S. troops were making an early morning raid on the Iranian consulate in Kurdish Iraq. Later in the morning the situation between Kurdish and U.S. forces, usually working together in relative harmony, became so tense guns were cocked.

This is within a week of U.S. strikes in Somalia targeting three Al-Qaeda leaders responsible for the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; this was on solid intelligence, a laughable concept with the current administration. However, the most recent reports say that those killed were not the three targets, but some associates of them and lower level Al-Qaeda.

And this is shortly after the Ethiopian army chased out of Mogadishu the Islamic Courts Union, the armed political faction that has held the city and much of Somalia recently. Most Somalis think that the Ethiopian army is being supported by the U.S.—and they’re probably right.

What do these three events have in common? They are all U.S.-led or –backed aggression against possibly unsavory elements—who happen to be Muslim.

This doesn’t make much difference in the eyes of most Americans, nor in Bush’s, but in the eyes of Muslims around the world, the U.S. is becoming more aggressive toward their brothers.

Much like when Hugo Chavez made his anti-Bush comments at the U.N. and the most bleeding-heart, tax-and-spend liberals came out in Bush’s defense, Sunnis and Shiites will come out in defense of their fellow Muslims against a common aggressor, notwithstanding their internal problems.

Mr. Bush hasn’t yet figured out that his “war on terror” has become a religious battle. And when he divides the world into “us vs. them” he drives moderate Muslims away. No one with a brain believes they either have to lie with Bush or the terrorists. This kind of rhetoric simply antagonizes moderates and drives them further along the spectrum (yes, it’s a spectrum, not two buckets) from the interests of the U.S. And his administration does not do anything to mitigate the problem except to say “no, that’s not right.”

So his solution is to send 21,500 more troops. How will the insurgents and militias react? Well, the Sunni insurgents probably see that there will be 17,000 more soldiers driving by IEDs in inadequately armed vehicles. They will continue their guerilla fight (a war of patience, not attrition), with casualties and arrests. But they will not go away, because the U.S. policies and actions are recruiting more bodies to their cause than are being killed or captured.

The Shiite militias don’t have to do anything. They can lie low and either keep up their executions at a lesser rate, or wait for the U.S. troop levels to decrease and then resume the extermination of the Sunnis who comprise only about 20% of the national population. They know that President Maliki is still beholden to Moqtada al-Sadr and that eventually al-Sadr will have his way as the leader of the largest militia (intermingled with national police and military).

Bush has created a foundation for failure in Iraq. The only question is how many more Americans and Iraqis will die before the Congress cuts off funding or the next president pulls out the troops. At current casualty rates, that will be more than 2,000 deaths, bringing the total for the failed war to well over 5,000 deaths and more than 100,000 injuries. And all of this so that Iraq can end up with a Shiite strongman at the head of a repressive government instead of Saddam Hussein.


Traveler says:

President Bush has caused such extreme polarization through his cavalier attitude that the next president will need to do ample amounts of damage control in order to have any sort of effectiveness in the international arena. The days of exercising unilateral hegemony are gone. US influence as a global superpower is diminishing.

We have wasted our time, money, and precious American blood chasing nonexistent weapons of mass destruction while North Korea continues to build its ‘nucyalar’ arsenal. How long will we be blinded by alterior motives (oil). Iraq has become the modern-day definition of quagmire. It will continue to hurt us to remain in Iraq militarily and would be a disaster to leave. Iran and Syria are salivating at the opportunity to move in and continue their blatant manipulation of the region.

Due to President Bush’s poorly chosen direction in Iraq, the US will continue to be seen as an enemy of Islam. This needn’t be the case, nor should it be. The US needs to swallow its pride and include Iraq’s neighbors in a reasonable exit strategy. Some argue that this will validate anti-American policies of some ‘rogue’ nations. This may partially be true, but at what cost are we alienating Iraq’s neighbors? A stable Iraq and an equitable arrangement for most in the region is far more superior than exclusion. We made a deal with Stalin in order defeat Hitler. Some argue this was a deal with the devil himself although necessary to stabilize Europe.

If such talks are pursued (near impossible with this administration), the dice surely won’t all fall in favor of the US. In our current direction, though, we will be lucky to have any fall favorably. At this point, we may have to reach a Bosnian solution, creating three predominantly autonomous regions loosely governed by a central body. Many concessions will be needed from all parties, including the US. If the conflict continues to escalate, the destabilizing ripples will spread and the results could lead to disaster.

Mike W. says:

Although the Islamists may see this as a religious war, the U.S. government (Bush adminstration and policy elites) see it as an economic war. We are willing to tolerate oppressive dicatorships in Saudi Arabia because they trade with us. We allow protracted, likely unfairly elected, strongman like Mubarak in Egypt because he will allow us economic interaction. Where we get our feathers ruffled is if someone doesn’t want to play by our economic rules. We tolerate the lack of democracy if we get something out of it.

Centrist says:

My point is that if we want to win the war (not just in Iraq, but against religious terrorist), it doesn’t how we see it, but rather how they see it. Even if our intentions WERE pure in trying to bring democracy to Iraq, they don’t care.

In the documentary “The Fog of War” (recommended viewing) Robert McNamara tells about how he went to Vietnam in the ’80s and talked to his former Veitnamese counterpart about why they fought against the Americans who were trying to stop communism and bring democracy and economic strength to the country. The former Vietnamese defense minister said that they just wanted everyone out. They had been fighting the Chinese, Belgians, etc. for so long, and now the Americans were “invading.” We assume that the muslim world sees things the way we do, that we’re trying to improve their lives. I think they just see us trying to boss them around, desecrate their religion, and impose our influence by force on them (are tey wrong?).

Until we look at the issue through their eyes, we’ll never understand the necessary strategic, tactical, and operational changes that must be made to win the battle against terrorism.

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