Saturday, January 13, 2007

Always the same mistake, or is it

On the surface President Bush always makes the same mistake, and in the last week he has done so in a major way that will possibly have disasterous consequences.

It all started four years ago when he began the Iraq invasion and occupation without getting any consensus among, or even having any meaningful discussion with, many of our important democratic allies. He did have consensus from much of Congress and the American people. Even after the WMD rationale was discredited, Congress and the electorate were primarily behind the President due to the success in Afghanistan and the desire to support the troops in Iraq and gain a somewhat acceptable resolution. On foreign policy and domestic policy issues Bush, however, has not been one to reach out, except to those whose support he could count on.

There were two decisions this past week that followed this pattern of making the same old mistake. First, when he made his Iraq policy statements on Wednesday he had definitely not sought out a cross section of Congress or other influential and concerned American people(business leaders, academics, former military leaders, former successful government leaders etc.). Second, when he attacked the Iranian consulate in Kurdish northern Iraq, he did not even consult or inform the regional Kurdish government.

The first mistake could lead to an unmitigated disaster. With such obvious dissent among much of Congress, other Americans of influence, and the U.S. voter, it gives the Shiite militias, the Sunni militias, and outside insurgents an unprecedented opportunity. If they can make the "surge" fail, they believe that the U.S. will be forced to withdraw. So it is now possible that the sectarian violence will slow down and most violent action will be focused on U.S. forces. It is likely that warfare, terrorism, insurgency, whatever you want to call it, will increase rather than decrease in the coming months. We have obviously seen the willingness of Islamists to die for their cause. This situation is not the fault of those who do not support President Bush. It is the responsibility of Bush/Cheney for not coming to some sort of consensus, or even meaningful discussion, with a broad cross-section of leadership. As in 2003, what was the rush?

The second mistake actually led to a several hour stand-off between U.S. forces and the Kurdish forces who were protecting the Iranian consulate. For the Kurds, who have been the most supportive of the ethnic groups in Iraq, this is a stab in the back that could have grave consequences for them. The Kurds have long aspired to autonomy and they have been seen historically as threats by southern Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. They are of Indo-European descent and are not Arab. When the U.S. inevitably withdraws, they could be victims of genocide that will make Saddam's atrocities there look minor. That Iran's diplomatic immunity is ignored in the Kurdish territorial region by the U.S. leader Bush, who will be back in Texas when the Kurds are slaughtered, is just not the way an American should behave.

I very much hope to be wrong about the dire possibilities for the American troops and the Kurds. That is a hope that to be sure has an American consensus. Bush is taking a huge risk.

But are these really mistakes that Bush/Cheney are making, or are they cynical political actions purposefully taken. Are the reactions of some newly outspoken members of Congress also just an opportunist version of this cynical mindset. A follow up post will discuss that possibility.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's the follow up post.

2:09 PM  

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