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Bush Is 'Emboldening Enemies' And 'Empowering Iran' In Iraq

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Ron Fullwood
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"I'm gonna have to keep explaining." -- Bush in interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley, Jan. 14, 2007 Bush was asked in a 60 Minutes interview this weekend if he was serious when he told interviewer Scott Pelly that he'd considered ending his Iraq occupation in the wake of voters' demands in the last election. Bush said he might have ended it, but, he was really concerned about 'emboldening terrorists' and 'encouraging Iran' if he admitted failure and brought our troops home. Pelly: "You actually thought about that?" Bush: "Of course I have. I think about it a lot, about different options. Listen, I've sat down with a lot of members of Congress, both parties, good decent people, who've said, "Start withdrawing now." I've thought about that, and my attitude is if we were to start withdrawing now, we'd have a crisis in our hands in Iraq. And not only in Iraq, but failure in Iraq will embolden the enemy. And the enemy is al-Qaeda and extremists. Failure in Iraq would empower Iran, which poses a significant threat to world peace. Failure in Iraq would provide safe haven, and the extremists still want to attack us. In other words, there's a lot of reasons that I know we must succeed. And so I thought long and hard about would withdrawal cause victory or cause success. And the answer is I don't believe so, and neither do a lot of experts. And so then I began to think, well, if failure's not an option and we've gotta succeed, how best to do so? And that's why I came up with the plan I did." There it is; Bush's entire rationale for keeping our troops bogged down in Iraq - escalating their presence, and ramping up their assaults on Iraqis who are actively resisting the unpopular Maliki regime. "Failure's not an option." Bush claims to be worried that our withdrawal from Iraq would increase Iran's influence there, allow a safe haven for 'terrorists', and embolden 'enemies' everywhere. "If the government falls apart and there is sectarian enclaves and violence, it'll invite Iran into the Shia neighborhoods, Sunni extremists into the Sunni neighborhoods, Kurdish separatist movements," Bush told 60 Minutes' Pelly. "All of which would threaten moderate people, moderate governments, and all of which will end up creating conditions that could lead to attacks here in America," he said. It's more than amazing that Bush either doesn't know that the conditions he described already exist in Iraq and elsewhere - primarily as a result of his own reckless militarism - or doesn't care. It apparently wasn't enough for Bush that his own collection of 16 separate intelligence agencies told him in a report leaked early last year that his continuing occupation of Iraq was actually fueling and encouraging individuals who would commit violent acts against the U.S., our interests, and our allies. Despite the fact that over 3000 of our own soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the almost four years since the initial invasion, Bush still wants us to believe that our force of around 150,000 troops can effectively protect something in Iraq. The evidence is overwhelming that our military is doing nothing but heightening the tensions between the factions there by committing their aggression in defense of one side of the multi-fronted civil divide in the country. Instead of our troops providing a stabilizing wedge between the warring Iraqi sects, they're being directed to suppress one faction or the other in random, arbitrary exercises of force directed at targets in areas mostly populated by innocent, unarmed civilians. Sadr City, for example - one target considered for the new escalation and assault - there are nearly 2 million residents surrounding whatever Shia militias they're after. Even more perplexing is the decision by Bush and his new commanders on the ground in Iraq to invite Kurdish soldiers to engage in assaults on Iraqis in hot spots around the country; drawing them further into the violent sectarian rivalries that already exist, and inevitably creating even more unnecessary divisions in a country which is being ripped apart by the struggles for power and influence in the wake of the removal of Saddam. We can be certain that the mostly Sunni Kurds will not be just engaging the Shia with newfound expressions of love and reconciliation if allowed to move their soldiers and weaponry into the neighborhoods of their longtime rivals. We can imagine though, without much difficulty, that the Shiite-sympathetic Maliki regime will not stand idly by as Kurdish forces assert their decidedly-independent influence deeper into Iraq. If we take Bush at his word . . . that, he's really concerned with Iran's influence in Iraq, in Shiite neighborhoods, then he's really blown it. There is nothing more responsible for, and enabling of, Iranian influence in Iraq than his destabilizing invasion and occupation. There was nothing more empowering of 'extremists' in the region than the reflexive response of the residents of the Middle East to Bush's threatening military expansionism. Nothing has encouraged support in the region for extremists bent on harming Americas and our interests more than Bush's strident, imperious coup in Iraq. Whatever political atmosphere now exists in Iran was first sparked by all of Bush's saber-rattling and threats against the primary spoke of his 'axis of evil'. If Bush wanted a moderate Iran, he clearly didn't take the influence of his own pernicious militarism into account. Many of the combatants in the Shia militias that Bush is planning on using Kurdish soldiers to attack were actually trained and equipped by Bush as part of the newly created Iraqi military and police force. There is nothing Iran has done to give aid and comfort to these militias which has come close to the support that came to them from the U.S. as they were directed to rival communities to suppress the opposition to the new regime before, during, and after the staged elections which brought the junta to power. Thousands of our nation's defenders were directed by Bush to fight and die in Iraq to foster, support, and defend the Shiite-dominated Maliki regime -- which has already aligned themselves, diplomatically and otherwise, with the objectionable Iranian regime Bush is busy posturing against. It's hard to imagine just how much more Bush could have done to encourage and expand Iran's influence in Iraq and the region outside of personally endorsing the new Iranian president. It's hard to imagine, as well, how much more Bush could have done to allow the original suspected orchestrators of the 9-11 attacks "safe refuge" in Afghanistan for over five years to taunt our nation and our forces which were diverted from the hunt for the terrorists to Iraq. It's hard to imagine any more enabling factor for those who would be encouraged to violent attacks against the U.S. than the fact of the 9-11 suspects' continued freedom as Bush continues to insist that Iraq is to be the 'center' of his contrived 'terror war'. I can't imagine that anyone actually believes Bush cares at all about Iranian influence, so much as he cares about his own legacy marred by his Iraq failure, and by his failure to apprehend the individuals said responsible for the 9-11 attacks that he promised he would capture, "dead or alive." Bush has no concern for the lives lost or for the unrest he fostered with his decision to invade. He's lost in a clever metaphor he's created to cast himself as a hero in his self-appointed role as the protector of the nation and the world. "We are in an ideological struggle," Bush told 60 Minutes, "and it's a really classic ideological struggle, and Iraq is part of it," he said. I wonder how many of those 3,000 soldiers who were killed in Iraq believed they were fighting an ideological war in Iraq? Their lives were needlessly squandered by Bush as he used them to force his own 'ideology' on Iraqis with military force. Now Bush wants even more of our soldiers to sacrifice for the mind games he's playing with anyone in the Mideast who's paying any attention. You just have to ask yourself, what fool wouldn't realize that you can't defeat an 'ideology' with an army? . . . especially not with our soldiers bogged down in the middle of Iraq's civil war.
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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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