Thursday, February 08, 2007

Self-denial? Ignorance?

February 4, 2007

Self-denial? Ignorance?
Or secret strategy?

The consensus view of all 16 US spy agencies that even if US President George W. Bush's new Iraq plan succeeds militarily by quelling violence in Baghdad, the country's political leaders may fail to avert disaster places the finger right on the pulse of the crisis facing the US. The truth is that the situation is beyond salvation for the US and it has to blame only itself for the debacle. Any US effort to disengage itself from Iraq should start from the realisation that Washington has miserably failed to realise its objectives in post-war Iraq and it is too late for it to launch a fresh effort.
However, the Bush administration is not yet willing to do so. It still argues that the battle against insurgency in Iraq could be won and it could jump back to a position where it could have a US/Israeli-friendly government in Baghdad (never mind even if it is not acceptable to the people of the country) which will sign away lucrative oil contracts with US companies and act as a US proxy in the Arab World. In order to arrive at that point, the US has to pacify the Iraqis and hand over key control of the country to them. Washington still believes this could be done.
That is not a view shared by the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), although it does buttress Bush's position by cautioning against a hasty US withdrawal -- but challenges some of the basic underpinnings of the president's plan for Iraq.
The NIE predicts that Iraqi security forces would not be in a position to take over control from the US military by this November as called for in Bush's latest Iraq plan.
And "even if violence is diminished, given the current winner-take-all attitude and sectarian animosities infecting the political scene, Iraqi leaders will be hard pressed to achieve sustained political reconciliation," says the NIE.
The NIE also rejected the White House's efforts to pin the blame for the Iraq crisis on Iran.
The report agreed that "Iranian lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants clearly intensifies the conflict in Iraq." However, the involvement of Iran or Syria in Iraq "is not likely to be a major driver of violence or the prospects for stability because of the self-sustaining character of Iraq's internal sectarian dynamics," it said.
It is precisely the "internal sectarian dynamics" that spells failure for all American hopes and efforts to stabilise Iraq and advance Washington's objectives there.
Instead of acknowledging this reality and accepting the wisdom of the entire publicly known intelligence community of the US , the White House applied a selective approach. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley grabbed and used the NIS's warning of "spiralling violence and political disarray" in Iraq if US forces stage a hasty withdrawal to argue in favour of continued American presence in the country.
Withdrawal from Iraq would mean giving Al Qaeda a safe haven in Iraq and result in risk and threats to the United States, Hadley said, echoing Bush and others.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates enaged in semantics to argue against the term "civil war" to describe the ongoing Sunni-Shiite conflict there. Again, no matter how Washington might want to describe it, the conflict is nothing but civil war.
The NIE report was emphatic. It said "the term 'civil war' accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilisation, and population displacements."
The NIE report was not prepared by critics or enemies of the Bush administration. It was drawn up by experts after closely studying the developments and situation in Iraq with strong intelligence inputs. The White House's dismissal of its key observations consolidates the conviction that it is dead bent upon following a disastrous course in Iraq. Is it self-denial? Is it ignorance? Or is it a secret strategy? It could be any of the three or a combination of all, but it would make little difference to the catastrophe that awaits the US plans in Iraq, heralding with it more agony, grief and suffering for the people of that strife-torn country.