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Bush's Baghdad Blunder

PRESIDENT BUSH'S surprise visit to Baghdad for a face-to-face meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was arrogant and presumptive.  His unfortunate political gambit did anything but provide support for Iraq's embattled government. 

Iraqis need to establish the legitimacy and independence of their nation.  When the American president jets in, without even notifying the head of the nation, Iraq's neighbors see this as evidence that Iraq has no legitimacy or authority. 

And our congress at home, from both sides of the aisle, commit the same error.  At a time when the President of Iraq, Vice President of Iraq, 80 percent of the Iraqi people, and 57% of America wants a short-term time-table for withdrawal (1-2 years), our representatives nix that notion.  This further dilutes the authority of the fledgling government, frustrates its people, and makes Iraq the laughingstock of the region.

As long as Iraq is perceived to be, and remains, an occupied nation...  the effective training and equipping of security forces is a lost cause.  When the heavy hand of the occupying US government is "molding" the institutions of government, rather than allowing Iraqis to attend to this task, Iraq cannot take charge of her destiny.  If Iraq ever hopes to develop a competent government and provide for the technological
upgrades and rehabilitation of its oil industry and electrical grid, the USA must loosen its grip on that nation and re-bid the contracts for reconstruction.

As long as Bechtel, Halliburton, and other transnational corporations shut out Iraq, her people, her neighbors, and most of our allies from participation in this reconstruction, our troops will remain targets.  The use of our troops as virtual mercenaries for this corporate cartel is untenable, counterproductive, and wrong-headed. 

We must not continue to use these no-bid contracts on Iraq as an excuse for building long-term military bases.  This misuse of power will only further destabilize the region.  Instead bombing the country while collecting "reparations"...  and further exploiting Iraq by treating its industries and infrastructures as spoils of war, we must bring our troops home in a phased withdrawal, and give Iraq back to her people. 

The sabotage carried out by former Ba'athists, Islamist fanatics, Iraqi nationalists, and the families of civilians lost in this war...  will not end until the occupier leaves the country.  We cannot ignore history.  This neo-con corporate colonialism must end.
It undermines our nation, cripples Iraq, and provides a "breeding ground" for terror.

Tim Flanagan       Click here to comment 

And from the Boston Globe:

"Another cause of the current chaos may be traced to the blunders committed by Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and other policy makers after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime three years ago. That history had to be in the minds of Iraqis yesterday when Bush told Maliki, ``I have come to not only look you in the eye; I have also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it will keep its word."

Presumably, Bush was saying Iraqis can trust his administration not to abandon them prematurely. But Iraqis have had to live with the chain of disasters traceable to an attitude Rumsfeld expressed when he responded to an ominous outbreak of postwar looting by saying glibly: ``Stuff happens."

What Bush should have told Maliki in private is that he will honor his obligation to help Iraqis cope with the Sunni Arab insurgency -- but not indefinitely. America cannot let Iraq become a safe haven for Al Qaeda, but nevertheless Iraqis must soon take the lead in waging and winning their war against insurgents who are overwhelmingly Iraqi.

...If Bush is serious about finding the right policy balance for Iraq, he will order an end to petty and divisive political tricks. There are Republicans who want to withdraw now from Iraq and Democrats who are willing to stay until the worst outcomes have been prevented. The fate of Iraq is too important to America and the world to be determined by the dishonest slogans of partisans.
 

GLOBE EDITORIAL: Bush's Baghdad visit  
(Boston Globe, 6/14/06)                                                            
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