"We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people." -- Bush, 2003
In his second trip outside the country since the stifling of his legislative enablers in Congress, Bush traveled to Jordan to see if he could get a vote of approval from Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and other foreign leaders for his rejected plans to "stay the course" and escalate the Iraq occupation. It's not surprising to find Bush with his back to America, looking for a way to skirt the will of the American people, expressed in the last election, to begin to take our soldiers out of Iraq and out of the way of the Iraqi's civil war. What's stunning is the Bush regime's arrogant plans and preparations to hunker-down and dig in instead of packing up to leave.
After months of escalating the occupation of Baghdad and defending the center of Bush's junta as his last stand in Iraq, Bush is set to send even more soldiers there to reinforce their green-zone of defense around the crumbled Maliki regime. About 3,500 combat engineer battalions of reserves are to be sent to Baghdad to support the 20,000 U.S. troops already mired there. These are units which build the 'berms' and checkpoints which are a likely defense against a predicted, coming onslaught against the government center in the certain anarchy developing out of the collapse of the alliance with Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, which had originally enabled Maliki's election by a single vote. Now the swollen ranks of followers of the former rebel leader - from 10,000 when our forces were battling him, to about 50,000 now - will presumably act out their interests in Iraq from outside of the political arena.
In September, it was Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani who walked away from his political role in the 'unity government' and presumably, took his thousands of followers with him as well. Sistani "abandoned attempts to restrain his followers" and declared he no longer believed he could stand in the way of the growing civil war. "I will not be a political leader any more," he reportedly told aides. "I am only happy to receive questions about religious matters." It was Sistani who forged an alliance with former militant Sadr allowing the elections to proceed. It's no exaggeration that, without Sistani's participation there may never have been elections in Iraq, or a Maliki government.
Yet, Bush is intent on turning his back on these Iraqis to huddle away in Jordan with his exile puppet, Maliki, and try to sell him on the Pentagon's scheme to send 20,000 to 30,000 more U.S. soldiers to Iraq for a "short period" of time to step up the training of Iraqis to kill each other better. Bush's 'exit plan' is shaping up as a scramble to dig our forces even deeper in Iraq to make them integral partners with the Maliki regime as Iraqis line up to rebel against them. There is no place in our own constitution providing for our nation's defenses to be used to defend the Iraqi government. It's not a democracy, it's a military junta operating in a perpetual state of emergency and with a suspended constitution.
The new regime there isn't pledged to some mutual defense of America as our NATO allies have agreed to. In the period following the sham elections (held under the increased occupation of their foreign invaders), Iraqis have had almost no opportunity at all to effect any of the changes they presumably voted for. In fact, many of these Iraqis have themselves been the target of deadly reprisals from the increasingly autocratic government security forces.
Who are the constituents Bush expects Maliki to represent? The Kurds are a good as autonomous in their determined isolation up north. The Sunnis have been under assault since the purge of Batthists and others sympathetic to their community by the initial installed 'authority', and have endured joint U.S./Iraqi attacks on their communities before, during, and after the elections. The Shia leaders have left Maliki, even as he postponed his planned encounter with Bush. There is no agreeable constituency for these two impotent leaders outside of their own generals, who dictate their respective nations' militarism with every exercise of their own defense; Iraqis, correctly defending the destiny of their homeland; Americans, vainly defending themselves as they wait for the orders from Bush to come on home.
Today, the leaders finally met without breaking any new ground, or indicating just when they expected our soldiers would be allowed to step out of the way of the Iraqi civil war which is raging around them. After reciting the same tired rhetoric about training Iraqis, and lying about the extent that our troops are needed to defend against 'al-Qaeda in Iraq, Bush was asked about setting a time limit:
Q. "Time limit on meeting goals. Is there a time limit on meeting goals?"
BUSH: "A time limit. As soon as possible.
You had a question --"
Q. "Sir, there are no time limits here?"
PRESIDENT BUSH: "As quick as possible, Martha. As quick -- I've been asked about timetables ever since we got into this. All timetables mean is that it -- it is a timetable for withdrawal. You keep asking me those questions. All that does is --"
Q. "Mr. President --"
BUSH: "Hold on a second. All that does is set people up for unrealistic expectations. As soon as possible. And today, we made a step toward as soon as possible by transferring a -- accelerating the transfer of authorities, military authorities to the Prime Minister."
Q. "Did you put any pressure --"
BUSH: "Hold on a second. Hold on, please, sir. Please . . . "
So, the two leaders declined, again, to set a timetable for the withdrawal of our soldiers from Iraq. Bush failed to communicate the demands of the American people to Maliki, expressed in the last election, that our troops be allowed to come home. They're all hunkering down there in Iraq, waiting for Bush to turn around, come back to America, and listen to and carry out the will of the American people. Our nation's soldiers are digging in to defend themselves against the certain collapse of whatever is left of the Maliki regime that Bush is still insisting they prop up with their lives and livelihoods.
Bush is digging in as well. We know that he wants to use the troops for anything that keeps them in place for future meddling, and delays the inevitable summation of his epic failure. We know that our soldiers are nothing more to Bush than toy soldiers that he doesn't feel he has to deal with in a straightforward manner or be honest about why they are still there. Our troops are on an open-ended mission to prop up both the junta in Iraq and Bush's disenfranchised presidency. They're his personal prop for victory speeches. They're his hired muscle in hell's kitchen, waiting for a new contract. They are also our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, waiting for some rationality to their mission . . . and a ticket home.
They deserve better than this lame-duck loser who is more interested in currying the favor of foreign leaders than he is in humbling himself before the citizens of his own country who he has so cynically pledged to serve.
from September 3, 2006:
Sistani Led His Followers to Elect Iraq's New Regime. Today He Walked Away