Sunday, June 26, 2005

No timetable (ever)

June 25, 2005

No timetable (ever) for US pullout

AMERICAN public have started taking serious notice of the crisis their country is facing in Iraq. That much is clear. What is not clear to them is how long would their military remain in Iraq and continue to take casualties. And hence the demand on the Bush administration to set a clear timetable for withdrawal from the country.
US President George W Bush had more of Americans in mind than the Iraqis or the rest of the world when he asserted on Friday that he would set no timetable for recalling the US military from Iraq.
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumseld wants Americans to be patient and support their troops in Iraq. He has put the onus on Iraqi security forces to quell the insurgency and suggests that the crisis could go on "for five, six, eight, 10, 12 years.''
"Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency," he said on Sunday. "We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency.''
Well, that approach clearly set the background for an indefinite American presence in Iraq since it is wishful thinking that Iraqi security forces would ever be able to effectively counter the insurgency and bring the country under their control.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll ahead of a key speech on Tuesday in which Bush was to seek public support for the war found that 53 per cent of Americans who were surveyed said the war was not worth fighting.
A record 57 per cent said the Bush administration "intentionally exaggerated its evidence that pre-war Iraq possessed nuclear, chemical or biological weapons."
What American leaders, including Bush and Rumsfeld, are not touching is the reality, as could be seen from the Mideast vantage point as far back in early 2002, that the US has no plans to quit Iraq in the foreseeable future.
In fact, there is no question of the US military leaving Iraq. Period.
There are several reasons to arrive at that conclusion:
The invasion and occupation of Iraq had more to do with the American question for global dominance than Saddam Hussein's oppression of his people; let us only mention that since the world knows of the hollowness of claims that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, had played a role in the Sept.11 attacks in the US and posed a direct threat to the security of the American people.
Having invaded and occupied Iraq, the US is no position to quit the country now. Ending the military presence in Iraq would mean a serious blow to Washington's long-term plans in the Middle East in all aspects — politics, military, energy-linked economy and global dominance. It would be humiliating for the US to leave Iraq now and would send what Washington would see as wrong signals to countries like Iran, Syria and even North Korea.
So it is clear that neither Bush nor Rumsfeld or anyone else in the current US administration means a withdrawal from Iraq while they do talk about it abstract terms.
What we are seeing today is a continuation of the same strategy of fitting or creating conditions to justify the arguments as indeed the Bush administration did in the run-up to the March 2003 war. That has clearly been established by the Downing Street memo — minutes of a July 2002 meeting where Britain's spychief reported to Blair and others in a secret meeting that the US was determined to go to war against Iraq and topple Saddam and that intelligence reports were being "fixed" to suit that goal.
Surely, ousting Saddam was not a goal in itself for the US, which now needs to pacify Iraq and have an American-friendly regime in power in Baghdad which will take care of US interests in the country and elsewhere in the region.
That is proving to be an impossible job because, among other things, the US failed to take into consideration many peculiarities of the Iraqi society and were almost blindfolded into Iraqi politics by Saddam opponents in exile who lied outright and convinced American strategists that they would have a clear and easy run of the country with overwhelming support from the people of Iraq once Saddam was removed from power.
The US also failed to take note that it was sending tens of thousands of its soldiers to a region where anti-US sentiments were already at a boiling point because of the lopsided American approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Washington strategists should have realised that there would be thousands of young men ready to kill themselves for a chance to take a shot at American targets in "revenge" for the American policy that they saw as heavily loaded against their interests because of Washington's support for Israel.
And now Washington is trying frantically to find a solution that would pull it out of the quicksands in Iraq, and does not necessarily mean a withdrawal from that country.
That is what US Secretary of State Condaleezza Rice actually meant when spoke on Tuesday stressing that the United States must "finish the job" in Iraq.
The "job" the Bush administration has in mind is not to bring "democracy" to Iraq although if it happens the way the US wants then it is welcome. The "job" is to drive down an American stake in Iraq that would not be pulled out in a hurry and everything else is secondary.