13 Nov 2005
Recently, John McCain a prominent Republican senator called for an increase in the number of American troops serving in Iraq by ten thousand soldiers. This call comes at the time that more and more voices are being raised in the U.S. against the continued stay of American troops in that country. Are these discordant signals a sign of confusion or desperation?
Now that the initial reasons advanced by the Bush administration to justify the invasion of Iraq turned out to be false, the likely hood that this Iraqi adventure is going to divide the American public is quite apparent
The Bush administration urgently needs a credible reason to advance and convince the American public that the sacrifices borne by American service men and women in Iraq are justified. It is certainly not enough to tell them that it is because of democracy and human rights that the war is being fought. The argument that America is in Iraq because of the war against terrorism is not completely convincing either.
Under Saddam Hussein Iraq was a secular state that ruthlessly crushed religious extremism of any kind. It is on record that Bin Ladin earmarked Saddam, as a foe that must be destroyed just because of the latter’s opposition to Islamic Fundamentalists. After America had successfully galvanized world opinion to ally with her to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, many observers of international affairs were surprised to see her invent another war against Saddam- a war that in my opinion was going to subvert the war against terror. Strategically speaking Saddam was an ally in the fight against Bin Ladin even if that alliance has to be qualified.
The invasion of Iraq was the best gift of Bush to Bin Ladin and the Qaeda chief actually applauded it. It became a cause célèbre that turned Saddam’s country into a magnet for international jihadists and suicide bombers. The American military has itself admitted that a sizeable number of suicide bombers involved in the mayhem in Iraq are foreigners. The Los Angeles Times went further in its July 17 2005 article on the website latines.com to quote a source that indicated that over 60% of the foreign fighters and 70% of the foreign suicide bombers were from Saudi Arabia (America’s ally). The American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq is gradually turning that country into a haven and factory for suicide bombers and jihadists. Already, we are told that four Iraqis were involved in the November 2005 triple attack on hotels in Jordan. We might have been witnessing the performance of the pioneer batch of graduates from Iraqi terrorism schools.
A polling of Americans on Iraq published on this website link http://www.pollingreport.com/iraq.htm makes interesting reading. For example 70% of Republicans and 10% of Democrats approve of the way George Bush is handling the situation in Iraq. 12% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats believe that the administration lied about weapons of mass destruction. 26% of Republicans and 66% of Democrats want U.S. troops to leave Iraq as soon as possible. What I found interesting is that the position of Democrats and that of Independent people that were polled was almost similar. After analysing the polling result, I felt a little bit uncomfortable to see people in an advanced society like America taking a stance on fundamental issues based on party affiliation. As top members of the Bush administration pride themselves as people of faith, it appears their Republican party followers are relying more on faith in Bush than logic to take a stance on issues affecting their lives.
My advice to Bush is to come out plainly and completely explain to the American people why their fellow citizens will stay in Iraq and indeed in the Persian Gulf for a long time. He should be courageous to tell his people that America is an imperial power. He should be candid to tell his people that one of the principal reasons for invading Iraq was to ensure that Iraqi petroleum would continue to oil the American economy for the foreseeable future. He should tell them that if America pulls out of that region, life would become harder for every American. He should tell them that if America pulls out now, Iraq could become like Afghanistan under the Talibans and not the secular state it used to be.
I know Bush is haunted by the possibility that ethical and moral issues will be raised about imperialism. He should bravely tell his compatriots that imperialism is part of human history and it is not an American invention. For now it seems Bush is currently speaking in parables and majority of Americans do not seem to understand him. As the support for the war in the U.S. wanes, I see no magic formula that can reverse that trend than telling the whole truth in plain language. If the American public understands the ‘other’ reason for being in Iraq, their opposition to the war will certainly fizzle out. If that happens, Bush can go to sleep because it is the opinion of Americans that matter to him. The rest of us can go to hell with our opinions. We are the et cetera, et cetera of this world.
Njei Moses Timah