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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Look foolish and leave 

It's pretty clear now that the US is just trying to declare victory and leave. But the more Bush babbles about defeating the terrorists and all that, the more foolish he looks. He had better develop a grasp of reality and leave before the world laughs him out of Iraq.
Frank Rich at the New York Times, in his column Someone Tell the President the War Is Over says:
What lies ahead now in Iraq instead is not victory, which Mr. Bush has never clearly defined anyway, but an exit (or triage) strategy that may echo Johnson's March 1968 plan for retreat from Vietnam: some kind of negotiations (in this case, with Sunni elements of the insurgency), followed by more inflated claims about the readiness of the local troops-in-training, whom we'll then throw to the wolves . . . Thus the president's claim on Thursday that "no decision has been made yet" about withdrawing troops from Iraq can be taken exactly as seriously as the vice president's preceding fantasy that the insurgency is in its "last throes." The country has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We're outta there . . .

And here's page one of the Washington Post:
The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say . . . Washington now does not expect to fully defeat the insurgency before departing, but instead to diminish it, officials and analysts said. There is also growing talk of turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqi forces even if they are not fully up to original U.S. expectations, in part because they have local legitimacy that U.S. troops often do not. "We've said we won't leave a day before it's necessary. But necessary is the key word -- necessary for them or for us? When we finally depart, it will probably be for us," a U.S. official said. Pressed by the cost of fighting an escalating insurgency, U.S. expectations for rebuilding Iraq -- and its $20 billion investment -- have fallen the farthest, current and former officials say.

And here's the result of it all -- the US president has shot himself in the foot in Iraq and so has squandered the capacity to play a leadership role in setting the world's military agenda.
Earlier this week, Bush told Israel television that he wouldn't rule out war with Iran. The reactions to Bush's comments found by Antiwar.com indicate that Bush made a fool of himself, in the world's opinion, by saying this and he is simply not being taken seriously as a military leader anymore. The BBC quotes Germany's Schroeder:
"Let's take the military option off the table. We have seen it doesn't work," Mr Schroeder told Social Democrats at the rally in Hanover, to rapturous applause from the crowd. Mr Schroeder said it remained important that Iran did not gain atomic weapons, and a strong negotiating position was important. "The Europeans and the Americans are united in this goal," he said. "Up to now we were also united in the way to pursue this." Mr Schroeder reiterates his views in an interview to be published Sunday in the German weekly Bild am Sonntag, labelling military action "extremely dangerous". "This is why I can with certainty exclude any participation by the German government under my direction," Mr Schroeder tells the paper.

And the Times has the British reaction:
The Foreign Office reacted swiftly. “Our position is clear and has been made very, very clear by the foreign secretary,” a spokesman said. “We do not think there are any circumstances where military action would be justified against Iran. It does not form part of British foreign policy.” So soon after the invasion of Iraq, which has led to so much political turmoil for Tony Blair’s administration, [British foreign secretary Jack Straw] is anxious not to be seen trying to talk up any future forays.

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