It is my contention that no matter what happens in Iraq in the future, the world press will spin it negatively as long as President Bush is in the White House. Quite simply, most of the media believes the Iraq conflict is a disaster and even if things were to improve there, the media now has a vested interest in America’s failure. Thus, honest assessments about the war in Iraq will be hard to come by.
I’ll back up my belief by pointing to two facts. First, the New York Times summed up President Bush’s speech on Iraq this way: “There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq.” That doesn’t leave the Times much wiggle room, does it?
And second, the execution of Saddam: We now know that the Bush administration asked the Iraqi government to postpone the hanging by two weeks, at least. The Iraqis said no and demanded the dictator be handed over. The President complied.
The Iraqis then totally botched the execution and the long knives came out. The American press pounded the Bush administration for being incompetent once again. NBC’s Tom Brokaw called the execution a “wild west hanging,” and flat out said it would lead to more violence in Iraq.
Well, so far violence levels have not risen and while Mr. Brokaw is certainly entitled to his opinion on the wild west front, I can only wonder what the anti-Bush press would have said if the USA had not handed Saddam over to the Iraqis. The likely headline would have been something like “Bush Insults the Iraqi Justice System.” The articles and punditry would have emphasized that America was usurping Iraqi authority.
At this point, Mr. Bush cannot win in Iraq, no matter what he does. If he tries to pull victory out of chaos by sending in more troops, the press condemns him as delusional. If he were to draw down troops and the violence ramped up, then the press would hammer him for losing the war and creating more instability in the Middle East.
President Bush must be wondering where it all went wrong. After the fall of Saddam, it looked like America had followed up its victory in Afghanistan with another triumph. The President was in tall cotton, as they say in Texas.
But Iraq soon went south, and here is the reason why.
The President and his advisors counted on the Iraqi people to work together in forming a democracy. Obviously, that did not happen. The powerful Mullahs who pretty much control entire neighborhoods saw an opportunity to kill their ancestral enemies. Al Sadr became Al Capone.
With that situation unchecked, al Qaeda and Iran exploited the violence by inciting more of it. As Iran trained killers and manufactured bombs, America took casualties. When al Qaeda blew up a Shiite mosque, the U.S. command could do little more than sweep up the wreckage.
And so the violent chaos grew and the Bush administration’s vision of a vibrant Iraqi society cooperating with the West against terrorism dissolved in cloud of desert dust.
So now the President is giving Iraq one more chance to fight for its freedom. He will be vilified for doing it. But he should do it. Iraq is that important.