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.