Iraq is not Bush's Vietnam: this is an unprovoked war of choice

Click to follow
The Independent US

When George Bush and Tony Blair meet here next week to discuss Iraq, one dark truth will dominate everything: This is not how it was supposed to be.

When George Bush and Tony Blair meet here next week to discuss Iraq, one dark truth will dominate everything: This is not how it was supposed to be.

A year ago, the assumption was that come April 2004, a liberated Iraq would be well on the way to acquiring democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity, and all those other wonderful attributes of civilisation Western armies can bestow. How different today. A year on, an ungrateful Iraq is on the brink of civil war, its factions united only by resentment of the American and allied occupiers, and by the bullets and bombs they use against them.

As one Iraqi city after another erupts in violence, Americans feel less rather than more safe in their own country, 30 months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. And the President's once seemingly inevitable re-election is now hostage to a dirty, semi-guerrilla war thousands of miles away.

Sound familiar? It should. Almost 36 years ago another President, named Lyndon Johnson, mired in an unwinnable war, announced he was stepping down. George Bush will not. But the political vocabulary of that era is flourishing again. The US again is "trapped in a quagmire".

This President, whose casus belli over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has proved a fiction, is accused of having his own yawning "credibility gap". Most Iraqis want America to succeed, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, assured the world again on Wednesday. "We haven't lost control," he said. But this was not the grinning, bullying, confident Rumsfeld of a year ago, mocking the fainthearted as US armoured columns roared across Iraq. This time, he was brusque and tight-faced, as he tried to explain dozens of new US casualties.

In 2003, the cost of the war was put at $50bn (£27bn). It is $160bn and rising. The troops were promised they would be home within a year. Now the 135,000-strong US deployment will increase to 150,000, confronted by the grim reality of an open-ended stay. Suspicions grow that Iraq, has, in the words of Richard Clarke, White House counter-terrorism chief under President Bush and Bill Clinton, undermined the war on terror. Then there are those missing WMD, in whose name 650-odd Americans and untold thousands of Iraqis have died?Clearly, hell-bent on taking out Saddam Hussein, the Bush team ignored CIA warnings of how difficult post-war reconstruction would be.

In March 2003, three-quarters of Americans backed the invasion. That figure is 57 per cent today. Iraq is not Vietnam. Iraq is an unprovoked war of choice, launched by a US President against a regime that posed no threat to the US, or anyone else.

Comments