The second gross error of judgement was that there
was apparently almost no planning for the rebuilding of Iraq after
Saddam - physically, economically and politically. George Bush
and his advisers (who hardly merit that description) seemed to
imagine that the US would be welcomed with open arms as liberators,
and that democracy would flourish spontaneously! Incredible naivety!
Think back to 2003 and the focus of debate, apart
from the justification of military intervention, was how difficult
it would or would not be to invade and overthrow the regime. The
neo-con merchants of 'shock and awe' were doing the rounds of media
newsrooms explaining how easy it would be with American high tech
military hardware to knock out, not just Saddam, but all unwanted
regimes. In the view of the neo-cons American power was transcendent
and unchallengeable - another piece of self-deception.
(Dan Halutz, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli
Defence Forces, made a similar strategic miscalculation in the
war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.)
The third gross error of judgement was to imagine
that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a step which would
actually give the US leverage over the recalcitrant neighbouring
states of Iran and Syria. On the contrary, the US needs their cooperation
if it is to have any chance of stabilising Iraq. (a)
Tony Blair's Israel-Palestine initiative has come and gone. The
upcoming US congressional elections in November will give some
idea of how the wind of American public opinion is blowing.
Meanwhile the news out of Iraq grows more grim by the day.
Picking Up The Pieces
Here are two links worth following:
Brendan O'Leary's answers to three
questions re Iraq: Hard Questions, Uneasy Answers
Lib Dems: A New Strategy for Iraq
Guess what? A ten-member commission,
headed by the former secretary of state, James A Baker, and backed
by President Bush, is considering the option of "bringing
neighboring Iran and Syria into a joint effort to stop the fighting",
according to a report in the Los Angeles Times on 16-10-06. LINK
17-10-06 A poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation
for CNN shows that only 34% of the American public supports
the war in Iraq. LINK
25-10-06 A poll conducted by Communicate Research
for The Independent shows that 72% in the UK agree with
the statement: Tony Blair’s support for George W. Bush’s
policy in Iraq calls into question
his political judgement, and that 72% believe that the war in unwinnable. LINK
13-11-06 In his speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet
Tony Blair said: 'a major part of the answer to Iraq lies
not in Iraq itself but outside it, in the whole of the region where
the same forces are at work, where the roots of this global terrorism
are to be found, where the extremism flourishes, with a propaganda
that may be, indeed is, totally false; but is, nonetheless, attractive
to much of the Arab street.
That is what I call a "whole Middle East" strategy.
There is a fundamental misunderstanding that
this is about changing policy on Syria and Iran. First, those two countries do not
at all share identical interests. But in any event that is
not where we start.
On the contrary, we should start with Israel/Palestine. That
is the core.'
Either Tony Blair has only lately discovered that
Israel/Palestine is "the core" of the instability in the Middle
East, or he has known this but nonetheless three years ago he committed
British troops to the invasion of Iraq, in the knowledge
that they couldn't succeed because the Bush administation's Middle
East strategy was bound to fail.
Bush has had exactly the opposite Middle East strategy,
which Britain through our participation in his invasion endorsed.
Bush believed he could topple the regimes around Israel through
the neo-con 'shock and awe' method, and in that way solve the Israel/Palestine
conflict in whatever way the Israelis chose to dictate to the Palestinians.
How wrong he was and is.
28-12-2006 An opinion poll for the France 24
and Le Monde reported overwhelming support for the withdrawal
of all coalition troops from Iraq: