Dr. Fraser- Point of View
January 19, 2007

George W’s new vision?

Hadn’t it been for the terrible cost in lives and money one would think that what is happening in Iraq is one big joke. Part of George W’s ‘new’ strategy is to get the Iraqis to take on more of the burden of stabilising Iraq and cleaning up the mess. Somebody has to be dreaming! Look at how they bungled the executions. First it was Saddam. They were embarrassed because they came close to making Saddam a hero and then! The appearance of the decapitated body of Barzan Ibraham al-Tikriti, former head of Saddam’s secret police after they had vowed to do it right the second time around shows how incompetent are Bush’s allies. The UN has produced some horrifying statistics- 35, 452 civilians dead and 36, 685 wounded. And of course of more concern to the Americans, over 3,000 of their men and women dead.{{more}}

The media had already alerted us to the fact that Bush was going to be announcing an increase in troops to Iraq contrary to all the advice he was given. I actually spent some time looking and listening to the most powerful man on earth. It was no longer ‘Staying the Course’ although it amounted to the same thing. The Americans were not going to run away. They were determined to win the battle. At what cost in money, lives, world peace and stability in the Middle East we were not told. Here was the same man who said ‘Mission Accomplished.’; who had formerly convinced the American public that there was no need for increased troops in Iraq and who suggested that they were actually winning the war. He began to admit mistakes. It was going to be difficult and the extra troops were to provide support for the Iraqis who were supposed to be undertaking most of what needed to be done.

I am not sure how many persons could seriously have looked at Bush and believed anything he had to say. He had blatantly lied to the American public before. Why should anyone believe that he wasn’t doing so again especially in a situation where he was fighting for his political life. The American public, at least the voting public had sent him an assessment of his performance. One hoped that he would have listened. He decided otherwise. He embarked on a path that created splits even in his own Republican party and drew little sympathy from the American public. Many of the politicians on his side who had stood strongly beside him now deserted him as they looked ahead to the next elections. Bush is a stubborn man and then he had Condi and Cheyney like hound dogs in the background, ready to go on the attack and try to convince the public that Bush’s was the only workable strategy.

What baffles me is the cost of the Iraq misadventure. It is being suggested that US$500 billion has already been spent and that billions will continue to be spent weekly. This billion thing baffles my imagination. Some of the persons who see nothing wrong spending billions of dollars in Iraq are some of the same ones who are against increasing the minimum wage. It is capitalism and power gone mad. The arrogance of power it is. Bush’s so called new plan entails US$5.6 billion in military expenses and 1 billion in reconstruction and other civilian costs. Then, of course an additional 21, 500 troops to bolster the 140,000 already in Iraq.

But there were other things thrown into the President’s plan. He decided to escalate the tension with Iran. The Iraq Study Group had suggested opening dialogue with Iran and Syria. This was going no way with George W. Dialogue is a bad word in his books. Instead he launched 2 raids against what he called networks of Iranians in Iraq who he suggested were supporting the attacks on Americans and destabilising Iraq. But Bush’s Iraqi friends were of a different view. They called for the release of the Iranian diplomats that were held. Iraq’s Shia political forces see Iran as a friend, not an enemy. A second American Carrier Strike force was ordered to the Gulf and extra Fighter planes summoned to Turkey. Then there were the bombings of so-called Islamic militants in Somalia that succeeded only in destroying more innocent lives.

Secretary of State Condi Rice was quick off the mark. She followed Bush’s speech with a trip to the Middle East. She had nothing new for them and claimed that she was testing the waters to see what was possible. But clearly one of the things she set about doing was shoring up support for the Fatah group that is locked in a battle with Hamas. What is likely to happen is a further increase in tension in Palestine. The key to the settlement in Iraq is tied in with the Palestine-Israel issue but George and Condi seem to have it all wrong. It is difficult to know what Condi is made of and what makes her tick. Senator Barbara Boxer was probably on the right track when she suggested that Condi’s childlessness impacted on her policies. The Senator came under attack for supposedly setting back the Women’s movement but she seemed to have been making a simple point that some persons could afford to take the positions they did because they had nothing at stake in Iraq. Boxer said that in her case her children were not in a position to be sent to Iraq and Condi had no children to send anyhow.

Admittedly the Democrats have only patchy policies. They have clung on to some aspects of the recommendations of the Iraqi Study Group and basically seem to be saying that there has to be a plan to get out of Iraq. They might not have been the ones responsible but the Americans have created the problems. Do they dare pull out? Hilary Clinton who supported the move into Iraq is now battling away from it having read the messages sent out by the electorate. Iraq is a nasty mess and the blame should not only lie with Bush. One has also to blame the many Americans who were taken up with the fancy tales spun by Bush. It is amazing that it took so many of them so long to read what was happening. It is only after they were confronted with the loss of so many American lives that they were prepared to stand up and be counted. As I write this article I am aware that yesterday, Tuesday, January 17 some 65 lives were lost in 2 different bombings. Would Bush’s increased numbers of troops further destabilise Iraq? If George W believes that the Iraqi officials are up to undertaking more tasks and carrying the fight forward then he is what almost everyone seems to think he is. As for Condi what makes her tick is the question! She is clearly not a fool. Why is she therefore fooling around?