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 Monday, January 15, 2007

Australian Commentary: Bush Has Become a Despised Laughing Stock in US


Jill Singer

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Read here JIll Singer's article

Such is Australia's enthusiasm for colonial subservience, there's an old joke that Britain will become a republic before we do.

A newer version is that the US will pull out of Iraq before we do.

Prime Minister John Howard is about the last man standing who still insists that US President George W. Bush got it right on Iraq.Even Bush admits he was wrong.

I'm writing this from the US where there is blanket media coverage of The President's Plan: Bush's revised strategy for saving face on Iraq.

Let's get it straight. Operation Iraqi Freedom is officially a failure.

The awful truth is that the majority of Iraqis were better off under Saddam Hussein than the US-delivered regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Maliki is just another supporter of sectarian violence.

In his case, it is Shiite Muslims rather than Saddam's bunch of Sunnis. He's done little if anything to control the fanatical Shiite militia led by Moqtada al-Sadr, a fiercely anti-American brute of a man.

At his hanging, even Saddam expressed a detached and ironic amusement upon learning that shrieking Moqtada supporters had been invited along as witnesses to his execution.

Essentially, it's just to send more troops. It's a strategy that is impressing few, apart from the most trenchant of conservatives.

In my view, the biggest mistake Bush made was NOT that he didn't send in enough troops, but that he started an unwinnable war in the first place.

There are about 130,000 there now and Bush plans to send an extra 17,500 troops to Baghad and 4000 to fight al-Qaida in Anbar province.

Bush's supporters aren't even praying for victory across Iraq any more, just praying to get out, with Baghdad somehow "contained" and a media strategy to contain the fallout.

The architects of the war are lining up to distance themselves from it.

This month's Vanity Fair contains a stunning piece of reporting from David Rose, a former supporter of the invasion of Iraq.

Rose interviewed dozens of neo-conservatives behind the disastrous decision.

Almost as one, they point the finger of blame at others rather than accept responsibility for the disaster.

Most notable is Richard Perle, former chairman of the Pentagon's defence policy.

Perle had predicted that Iraq was a very good candidate for democracy in the Middle East and that Iranians would be so impressed by the success of Iraq, post-Saddam, that they would follow suit and bring in regime change.

Like the K-Tel ad-man, Perle said there would be more: Syria would agree to stop backing terrorists.

Now, he says he underestimated the depravity that pervades Iraq.

Now, he smells failure and fears the consequences. In his words, we are possibly about to witness all the mayhem the world is capable of creating.

Thanks for that, Dick.

Then there's David Frum, who co-wrote Bush's infamous axis of evil speech. He now says defeat may be inescapable and to attempt to justify taking any risks at all on behalf of the coalition of the willing would be difficult.

All this as Bush demands that more and more of his fellow citizens take the greatest risk of all on behalf of his failed strategy.

The nightly TV news in the US is heartbreaking, as devastated families line up to mourn the loss of their loved ones.

And, of course, the grief doesn't end there, with many thousands more returned soldiers trying to survive with horrific injuries.

Some have trouble telling their stories: it's kind of hard to speak when your lips have been burned off.

Apart from the human cost of this war, the financial cost has been catastrophic.

So far the US has poured more than $US350 billion into it and has earmarked at least another billion.

The only upside, if you're an American, is if you happen to be, say, Vice-President Dick Cheney, whose business mates are making a financial killing from the war.

In the immediate future, we might expect to hear Bush come out with escalating rhetoric about:
  • how the Iraqis "ain't doin' good 'nuff runnin' their country".

  • Damned fools those Iraqis, perhaps they just need another good dose of regime change.

  • Bush's new plan for Iraq has cemented his reputation as a lame duck president who is rapidly becoming the most loathed in US history.

    Poll after poll confirms his plummeting popularity as at least two out of three Americans reckon the invasion of Iraq was a devastating mistake.

    The man has become a despised laughing stock.

    In the blanket coverage leading up to the release of The President's Plan, David Letterman was wise-cracking relentlessly along the lines of Plan A: dig Saddam up and execute him again.

    A segment of great presidentiall speeches was broadcast. John F. Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" was followed by Bush lecturing Americans about the invasion of Iran, whoops, Iraq.

    Australians need to question why we're still tagging along with Bush.

    It was a mistake to join the war. It's time to call it quits

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