We’d All Love to See the Plan

Tomgram: Dreyfuss on Bush’s Wizard-of-Oz Iraq Plan
By Tom Engelhardt / Robert Dreyfuss
Jan 4, 2007, 11:29

Every now and then, you have to take a lesson or two from history. In the case of George Bush’s Iraq, here’s one: No matter what the President announces in his “new way forward” speech on Iraq next week — including belated calls for “sacrifice” from the man whose answer to 9/11 was to urge Americans to surge into Disney World — it won’t work. Nothing our President suggests in relation to Iraq, in fact, will have a ghost of a chance of success. Worse than that, whatever it turns out to be, it is essentially guaranteed to make matters worse.

Repetition, after all, is most of what knowledge adds up to, and the Bush administration has been repetitively consistent in its Iraqi — and larger Middle Eastern — policies. Whatever it touches (or perhaps the better word would be “smashes”) turns to dross. Iraq is now dross — and Saddam Hussein was such a remarkably hard act to follow badly that this is no small accomplishment.

A striking but largely unexplored aspect of Saddam Hussein’s execution is illustrative. His trial was basically run out of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad; Saddam was held at Camp Cropper, the U.S. prison near Baghdad International Airport. He was delivered to the Iraqi government for hanging in a U.S. helicopter (as his body would be flown back to his home village in a U.S. helicopter).

Now, let’s add a few more facts into the mix. Among Iraqi Shiites, no individual has been viewed as more of an enemy by the Bush administration than the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. American troops fought bloody battles with his Mahdi Army in 2004, destroying significant parts of the old city of Najaf in the process. American forces make periodic, destructive raids into the vast Baghdad slum and Sadrist stronghold of Sadr City to take out his followers and recently killed one of his top aides in a raid in Najaf. The upcoming Presidential “surge” into Baghdad is, reputedly, in part to be aimed at suppressing his militia, which a recent Pentagon report described as “the main threat to stability in Iraq.”

Nonetheless at the crucial moment in the execution what did some of the Interior Ministry guards do? They chanted: “Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada!” In all press reports, this has been described as a “taunting” of Saddam (and assumedly of Iraqi Sunnis more generally). But it could as easily be described as the purest mockery of George W. Bush and everything he’s done in the country. If, in such a relatively controlled setting, the Americans couldn’t stop Saddam’s execution from being “infiltrated” by al-Sadr’s followers — who are also, of course, part of Prime Minister Maliki’s government — what can they possibly do in the chaos of Baghdad? How can a few more thousands of U.S. troops be expected to keep them, or Badr Brigade militiamen out of the streets, no less the police, the military, and various ministries?

Consider the “new way forward,” then, just another part of the Bush administration’s endless bubbleworld. And check out exactly what madness to look forward to in next week’s presidential address via Robert Dreyfuss, a shrewd reporter and the author of the indispensable Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. Tom

The Surge to Nowhere: Traveling the Planet Neocon Road to Baghdad (Again)
By Robert Dreyfuss

Like some neocon Wizard of Oz, in building expectations for the 2007 version of his “Strategy for Victory” in Iraq, President Bush is promising far more than he can deliver. It is now nearly two months since he fired Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, installing Robert Gates in his place, and the White House revealed that a full-scale review of America’s failed policy in Iraq was underway. Last week, having spent months — if, in fact, the New York Times is correct that the review began late in the summer — consulting with generals, politicians, State Department and CIA bureaucrats, and Pentagon planners, Bush emerged from yet another powwow to tell waiting reporters: “We’ve got more consultation to do until I talk to the country about the plan.”

As John Lennon sang in Revolution: “We’d all love to see the plan.”

Read the rest here.

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