President Bush has rejected the steps outlined in the ISG Report last month for getting out of Iraq. It was not the only report he received. There were at least three other reports: one from the generals, one from his own foreign affairs experts and one from the right-wing thinkers at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). It was the last report that he took to heart.
Instead of pulling the American military out of Iraq and talking to Iran and Syria to bring peace to Iraq, as the ISG Report counselled, Bush will do the opposite: he will send a surge of 24,000 more men and refuse to openly talk to Iran and Syria.
In addition, Bush will send more warships into the Persian Gulf, perhaps to strike at Iran if it causes trouble. Iran is attempting to build an atom bomb and would dearly love to see America fail in Iraq.
This will be Bush’s last chance to secure a victory. A year from now the race to choose the next president will be on. If Iraq is not on the mend by then, the Republicans will be on their way out of power. If a Democrat does become the next president, he will likely pull America out of Iraq.
The Republicans want to fight on. They see it as a front in the war against Osama bin Laden and his men, who are there fighting. Losing Iraq would have horrible consequences. The Democrats see it as a costly and unnecessary war. America should cut its losses and pull out now.
The idea is to double the size of the American military in Baghdad by sending 20,000 more men. Then, with the Iraqi army, it will “take, hold and build” Baghdad, one part at a time. In the past America has been able to take parts of the city, but it had too few men to hold them. Building therefore was out of the question. America could not use its great wealth to effect.
The hope is that America will bring some degree of peace and prosperity to its part of Baghdad, making the rest of the city see the madness of continued violence. This is called “winning hearts and minds” or counter-insurgency. It means beating the guerrilla fighters at their own game.
It seems the Americans will leave Sadr City for last, hoping that it falls on its own. Sadr City is a vast area of poor Shiites in east Baghdad, the stronghold of the guerrilla fighters of the Mahdi Army, loosely led by Muqtada al-Sadr.
It could work. But all that America’s enemies have to do to win is to keep the blood running in the streets for one more year.
Democracy, it seems, is unsuited to fighting a guerrilla war. Democracy works on a two to four-year cycle, while guerrilla warfare works on a ten to twenty-year cycle.
Yet Bush says that if America fails, Iraq will become a bloodbath and a seedbed for terrorism. Friendly governments across the region could fall and neighbouring Iran will become an even greater danger.