In the wake of Oxfam International’s damning report about the human conditions in Iraq and ongoing revelations about war profiteering by American companies like Halliburton, the Bush Administration’s so-called “troop surge” now appear more and more to be an exercise in futility. The Oxfam report “Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq” documented not only an unfolding humanitarian crisis of epic proportions but is indirectly an indictment of the failures of Mr. Bush’s ill-conceived military adventure.
Among Oxfam’s most chilling findings were:
- Four million Iraqis – 15% - regularly cannot buy enough to eat.
- 70% are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50% in 2003.
- 28% of children are malnourished, compared to 19% before the 2003 invasion.
- 92% of Iraqi children suffer learning problems, mostly due to the climate of fear.
- More than two million people – mostly women and children - have been displaced inside Iraq.
Then there is the enormous exodus and scattering of the Iraqi people as the scale of the fighting continues to grow despite the United States and the United Kingdom’s massive military buildup – the largest military undertaking by the United States in peacetime. Conservative estimates say that Syria has now absorbed more than one million Iraqi refugees with Jordan and Iran accounting for another one million combined.
While the Bush Administration continues to see Syria as a terrorist state and accuses it of meddling in the internal affairs of Lebanon, Syria is today straining under the heavy yoke of having to provide food, clothing and shelter for these Iraqi refugees that are the direct consequence of the illegal United States invasion of Iraq based up a tissue of lies, half-truths and fear-mongering.
As the Oxfam report hurled new eggs in Mr. Bush’s face, out came the Administration’s trusty enablers. The first were the Brookings Institute’s Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack whose article appeared in the New York Times of July 30 under the caption “A War We Might Just Win.” Both men were notorious for beating the drums of war and egging on the Bush Administration to embark on this military fiasco.
As far back as October 2002 Pollack declared on national television that "that Saddam Hussein is absolutely determined to acquire nuclear weapons and is building them as fast as he can." And O’Hanlon ratcheted up the fear frenzy factor on behalf of the neoconservatives in the war-crazy-blood-in-the eye Bush Administration. For example, in a Dec. 31, 2002 op-ed, without citing any evidence, he argued that "Saddam Hussein may be poised to bring the battle to American cities via terrorism." "We've got to go to war by March, I think, if we're going to use the good weather," he then told Fox News in Jan. 2003.
Now this same institution and some of the same players who pushed for a rush to war and the invasion of Iraq based on lies and deceptions are now back telling the American people that the troop surge is working. The New York Times piece states that “we’re finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.” And in a new drive to permanently occupy Iraq the authors state that “there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008." In essence therefore O’Hanlon and Pollack provided the Bush Administration the kind of political cover that it desperately needed to “prove” to the American people that its new military strategy and policies were working in Iraq.
Yet, most of the top military brass in Iraq has stated –time and time again – that there can be no military solution in Iraq. Moreover, the civilian and humanitarian crisis as outlined in the Oxfam report is the engine that will drive and bolster the insurgency and create droves of fresh new recruits who want the invaders and occupiers out of Iraq. This lull in the fighting should never be taken as conclusive evidence that the surge is working. Or perhaps both O’Hanlon and Pollack are working overtime to soften the blow of an impending military report out of Iraq in September that is rumored to be not good news for Mr. Bush and company.
This cherry-picking of facts, information and issues when it comes to the Iraq war has been the modus operandi of the apologists for this badly prosecuted military adventure. Mr. Bush to this day remains true to his illusions about how the war is going and insists at every opportunity that “we’re winning the war in Iraq and that we have the terrorists on the run.” He is oblivious to the fact that the Iraq war has become the one thing that unites the American people – they hate it.
It is therefore ridiculously amusing to see the Commander-in-Chief swaggering around like a conquering general because he’s able to get his way by browbeating and facing down a supine and genuflecting Democratic Congress. And it is this that gives people like Pollack and O’Hanlon the encouragement to peddle such skewered facts and embellishments as gospel truths to a populace desperately needing to hear something good and positive out of Iraq.
Political strong-arming the Democrats has paid dividends for Mr. Bush since they have abandoned their earlier calls for a set timeline for troop withdrawal. He now ignores both the Democrats and the American people going along his merry way and running this disastrous misadventure in his own way. Mr. Bush, aided and abetted by spin masters and enablers like O’Hanlon and Pollack, is steadfast to his illusion of victory in Iraq no matter how many young American lives are lost in the process.
In setting up the new Iraqi construct O’Hanlon, Pollack and Mr. Bush have spun the improbable yarn that any defeat in Iraq would embolden Al Qaeda and bring the war to the American homeland. This return to fear-mongering is the feature of a fall-back policy that goes into action when things don’t go exactly as planned. Picking a few, and far between minor bright spots in an entire sordid mess is not the kind of responsible analysis that should be done in the context of Oxfam’s report and the realities on the ground in Iraq.
Should the humanitarian crisis inch towards a regional catastrophe the entire Middle East region could become more inflamed and further violence could break out. The fact that our dear president has not recognized or is unwilling to recognize that domestic support for his war in Iraq has long ago deteriorated is truly troubling since this once again demonstrates the president’s disengagement from reality and his penchant for conjuring up his own perception of what is right and wrong – simply because he wills it and says it to be so.
And even more disturbing and surreal is Mr. Bush’s holier-than-thou stance when it comes to explaining the war. He sees it as America’s God-given duty to preserve the “young Iraqi democracy.” Never mind that what is happening in Iraq could never pass muster for any type of democracy or the fact that the American-installed Shiite-led government is at war with many of its own people. Or that Al-Qaeda is a relatively small part of the Iraqi insurgency that other insurgent group loathe but tolerate because of a common hatred for the American occupiers.
What O’Hanlon and Pollack conveniently forgot is that the mess in Iraq was the direct result of their brand of jingoistic warmongering that helped make the Bush Administration’s case for war in the first place. In hindsight Mr. Bush’s first major mistake was his decision to invade a country that did not declare war on America and was no threat to it. But when he committed combat troops to the independent nation of Iraq Mr. Bush’s stubborn refusal to change course when the war was going badly helped to create the “if you break it you own it” principle in Iraq.
As things went from bad to worse the president became increasingly defensive and kept taking advice from people who never wore combat boots or had an inkling about how to win the peace after an unpopular invasion. And mistake after mistake was been seen by Mr. Bush as simply hiccups along the way to eventual victory and glory. One example will serve to demonstrate Mr. Bush’s “my way or the highway” attitude that has only helped to further bog down the United States in an unpopular war.