U.S. forces in Iraq should be reduced significantly, according to a new study on Iraq's security forces that inflamed debate in Congress on how quickly that can happen without hurling the country into chaos.At the heart of American discontent is a "failed surge", which Bush embarked upon against the advice of a much touted Iraq Study Group. At the heart of the US discontent is the feeling that whatever unspoken goals Bush may have had, more worthwhile goals will not be achieved. Only 5 percent of Americans believe that al Qaeda will be weakened; only 3 percent believe the US will have brought Democracy to any part of the Middle East.
The report, authored by a 20-member panel comprised mostly of retired senior military and police officers and led by retired Gen. James Jones, said the massive deployment of U.S. forces and sprawl of U.S.-run facilities in and around Baghdad has given Iraqis the impression that Americans are an occupying, permanent force.
Accordingly, the panel said the Iraqis should assume more control of its security and U.S. forces should step back, emboldening Democrats who want troop withdrawals to start this fall.
Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said he will recommend to Congress on Monday a gradual reduction of forces beginning in the spring and acknowledged that the slow pace of political solutions in Baghdad had frustrated him, The Boston Globe reported.
--Associated Press, Study: US Should Lower Profile in Iraq, by Anne Flaherty
Why do Americans continue to die in Iraq? The surveys by Foreign Policy and others measure attitudes about perceived progress toward stated goals. The most obvious explanation for US failure is that Bush did not invade Iraq to achieve the goals about which people are polled.
Bush invaded Iraq to achieve a hidden agenda that he dare not tell the American people. Oil!Only 12 percent of Americans believe that if the US pulls out of Iraq, terrorists "will follow us home". But the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate. A dramatic loss, in war as in chess, is defined by ever diminishing options. Bush options now approach a theoretical zero. Just as a point at which a tangent may touch a curve is described accurately only by its co-ordinates, Bush is down to the no man's land between staying and a ignominious withdrawal.
In Bush's adolescent mentality, the world is a board game and the American people are merely tokens to be pushed around on a card board map. He has conducted his presidency frivolously, as if playing a game of Risk, the object being to conquer the world, acquire territory, defend it against opponents. To withdraw is to be "followed home". In this context, the words of a Buzzflash editorial of September 24, 2001 seem prophetic.
On Sunday, September 16, Bush characterized America's coming struggle to crush terrorism as a "Crusade."I've played a bit of chess, enough to recognize an exposed King trapped on his own back rank. Checkmate in one move! That's how I once beat a grand master, the only high point in my chess career. He was careless and I was lucky. Bush is careless and now makes his own bad luck. He has no more moves and doing nothing is a certain loss.
It was an ill-chosen word that fed right into the fears of the Islamic world that the Christian West was once again coming to vanquish and slay the "infidels." The Crusades occurred from the 11th through 13th Centuries as thousands upon thousands of Muslims were slain in an effort to recapture Jerusalem. The tragic irony, of course, is that the Pan-Islamic vision of Osama bin Laden and his extremist clerics present the mirror image of the Crusades: an Islamic jihad aimed at bringing about the downfall of the Judeo-Christian West -- and to rescue the "Holy Land" from the Christian infidels (for example, American bases in Saudi Arabia). Bin Laden, as we know, maniacally considers all Americans and "Crusaders" as fair targets for murder.
Although the White House apologized for Bush's evocation of the "Crusade," the propaganda damage had already been done. If we are simultaneously trying to crush extremist Islamic terrorists while minimizing the possibility of the Middle East and parts of Islamic Asia from exploding in an armed uprising, then Bush's use of the word "Crusade" was like tossing a match onto a tinder box when the use of a fire extinguisher should have been the rhetorical tool of the day.
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