Monday, December 04, 2006


That President Bush is now grappling with reality, the reality on the ground in Iraq, is a recurring theme of many columnists in the UK and the USA this week.

Of course, columnists in the Middle East, Indonesia and Russia have been arguing virtually non-stop since late 2003 that Bush not only had no concept of what was actually happening in Iraq - a civil war that began even before Saddam Hussein was captured - but that he was so far removed from any notion of Iraq's reality by his circle of advisors, insiders and his sheer, utter arrogance, that he was unable to grasp that his dream of Iraq as a flagship of Middle East democracy was a fantasy on par with hosting the Galactica Olympic Games on Mars in 2020.

Below Andrew Sullivan, an early backer of the 'War On Iraq', completes his transition to ultimate sceptic by raising valid questions not only about the president's grasp on reality when it comes to the 'War On Iraq', but his very sanity.

From TimesOnline :

One of the grimly fascinating aspects of observing the Bush administration these past few years has been the question of when the president will actually face reality.

...we found out last week that the president is still resistant to any notion that he might have failed so badly that his country and the world require him to change course.

His press conference last Thursday with Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, was an alarming glimpse of a president in almost clinical denial.

“I know there’s a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there’s going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq,” Bush said. But he insisted: “We’re going to stay in Iraq to get the job done so long as the government wants us there.”

On the same day Maliki told ABC News that he expected Iraq to assume complete responsibility for its own internal security by June of next year.

If in June Maliki asks the US to leave, what will Bush do? What if Maliki, pressured by his only source of real power, Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shi’ite cleric and leader of the Mahdi army, actually accelerates this request and asks the Americans to leave before then? Does Bush have a plan? One would expect any responsible president of the United States to have such a plan.

But Bush is not a responsible president of the United States. He is a reckless gambler of other people’s money and other people’s lives.

The hope is that his declarations of no change of course are as credible as his insistence only a month ago that Rumsfeld would remain defence secretary until January 2009.

Maybe it’s a last-ditch poker face in an intractable situation. Or maybe — gulp — he really does believe that Iraq is still fixable, that Maliki will soon emerge as a unifying national leader, that American troops will manage to calm a civil war, that trained Iraqi troops will fight for a united democratic government rather than for sect or tribe or vengeance.

I hope it’s the former, with sanity soon to re-emerge. But I fear it may be the latter: and that his brinkmanship is something he has tragically mistaken for strength.