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Bush’s Ill Strategies On Iraq Parroted By Howard

The Bush’s Ill Strategies On Iraq Parroted By Howard


José María Rodríguez González

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, echoing US President Bush, predicts that if American troops leave Iraq, the country will fall into chaos. Since military and intelligence experts agree that the promised "surge" of 20,000 American troops is unlikely to quell Iraq's spreading Civil War, might the Prime Minister not best help his US mentor by pledging 20,000 Australian troops to bolster the US effort?

Such a display of solidarity might be particularly welcome at a time when the steadfast British, not to mention the stalwart Poles, have announced plans to pull out their forces, along with brave Danish and Lithuanians.

Twenty Thousand Australians to Iraq? If the suggestion seems absurd, it's because most of the world, including members of Bush's fast-fading "coalition of the willing" now recognize that the predicted chaos has long since arrived. The U.S. is now sunk in an unwinnable struggle against an undefined enemy; and increasing the number of foreign troops in Iraq can only exacerbate the chaos.

It is a wild exaggeration to declare that exiting American troops from Iraq will somehow destabilize the whole world. An informed analysis suggests the opposite. It was the invasion of American troops that created a power vacuum, invited sectarian struggle in Iraq, and gave new possibilities to sectarian factions in Palestine and Lebanon. This regional destabilization results directly from the ill-advised policy, deceptive practices and incompetent management of the American Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush.

Contrary to the strategy advanced by Bush and parroted by Howard, if the American troops leave, the civil war will have a short, brutal ending. The struggle will doubtless be bloody, but it will be a battle between Iraqis, fighting for control of their own country, a painful internal conflict which may well be necessary for Iraq’s stabilization. On the other hand, if American troops stay in Iraq, the Civil War will enter a prolonged stage. The insurgency and militias will draw on unlimited resources both inside and outside of the country. They will recruit new members and grow much stronger. The insurgent's newly acquired capability to contain American low-flying aircraft and the lethal improvement of Shiite roadside bombs are samples of what awaits foreign forces stuck in the middle of a spreading Civil War.
The Bush’s ill strategies on Iraq parroted by Howard - José María Rodríguez González

Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites would prefer the US forces -- indeed all foreign forces -- to leave. The Australian Prime Minister does not recognize what is obvious to all sides in the Iraqi conflict: It was American bombs -- not roadside bombs -- that flattened towns, destroyed cities and ruined the infrastructure in many Iraqi areas. With 100,000 Iraqis killed in the invasion -- presumably for their own benefit -- and 500,000 Iraqi children dead as a result of Western sanctions, Iraqis of all persuasions find it difficult to embrace the West as a vehicle for their national salvation. Roadside bombs are fearsome weapons and the dead on both sides are gruesome evidence to the ferocity of Iraq's feuding factions, but a much greater toll was exacted by American weapons. The bloody tensions of the region now stem from the struggle of local forces fighting to control Iraq, not to destroy it. Howard does not connect Iraqi disenchantment with the West to failed US reconstruction projects.

The U.S. must leave Iraq because it is strategically necessary. In searching for a cosmetic victory Bush, his neocons and the Israeli lobbyists are pushing the US towards a much more serious and much uglier war. An attack on Iran, for example, will unite Iraq’s Shiites, Hezbolla and even Hamas against the U.S.; whereas leaving Iraq removes the most inflammatory argument in the region: that U.S. is not neutral, does not really pursue peace, and therefore cannot help to resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

Let’s see what’s happening now. While the surge concentrates in Baghdad, the Mahdi Army’s has disguised its forces as “reconstruction teams" and welcomed community defense helpers. The Sunni insurgency is advancing its operations outside Baghdad, The militias as well as the insurgency are checking the American tactics and studying their new logistics. This exploratory process could take a couple of months or less. When the response starts, American casualties are bound to increase.

The ongoing destabilization of the region will develop fully with the consolidation of the Shiite power in Iraq. Ironically, that is precisely the situation that the current Bush’s strategy will create. Moderate Shiites would have no chance of survival with an Iraqi Army infiltrated by fundamentalists and fundamentalists militias controlling the South.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have something very much in common: they are not pro-Americans. If Bush and Howard understood this they would see the existing Iraqi government for what it is -- a white elephant, vegetating in the green zone, with a congress known for its fecklessness, corrupt government and inept leadership. It is a masquerade, not a model for democracy in the Middle East, nor in any part of the world, for that matter.

Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, among others, will support the Sunni power in Iraq. The Sunnis may have more secular leanings than the camouflaged theocracy that U.S. supports, where resentment of American involvement feeds -- not diminishes -- Iranian influence. At present Al-Qaeda has no chance of leadership in a Sunni Iraq, but it will grow in military and politically importance if the Shiites take the hegemonic power they are maneuvering for. Howard doesn’t know better than Bush.

U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama understands the realities of the Middle East. In his recent attack on Obama, Prime Minister Howard just confirmed his own lack of knowledge and vision. If he sincerely believes in Bush's fantasy of a winnable war in Iraq, he should put his money where his mouth is and do what Obama challenged him to do -- send 20,000 Australian troops to help the Americans. Wouldn’t Bush be extremely pleased by such a well-meaning gesture from a frantic friend?

*************

José María Rodríguez González

(U.S. foreign policy analyst)

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