Leading article: An electoral prism that distorts the abject reality

Share

America's mission in Iraq has been manipulated at every turn to suit the US domestic political agenda. The initial military push to Baghdad, the much-vaunted national elections, the handover to a supposedly independent Iraqi administration: all these events were timed to suit not the interests of the Iraqi people but the Bush administration. Each one was stage-managed to convince the public in America that progress was being made.

In the light of this, we are entitled to treat the latest announcement from the US - that Iraq will be ready to take charge of its own security within 12 to 18 months - with extreme scepticism. It is clear what is going on here. Facing the prospect of heavy Republican losses in the mid-term Congressional elections, inflicted by an electorate despairing over Iraq, President Bush has decided on drastic action.

Yesterday's announcement - tantamount to a timetable for withdrawal - is intended to reassure American voters that the end is in sight. Ninety American troops have died this month. October 2006 is on course to be the most costly month for the US since the invasion. Republicans need US voters to go to the polls with some more positive news about Iraq in their minds. It is telling that, in the present context, withdrawal is the most positive news that can be engineered.

Make no mistake, this decision has not been made because the conditions on the ground in Iraq are improving. On the contrary, the carnage is growing daily as sectarian militias step up their attacks and the insurgency against foreign troops becomes ever more ferocious. Nor is there any evidence that the Iraqi army or police force will be ready to stand on their own against this onslaught in 18 months' time.

The head of US forces in Iraq, General George Casey, claimed yesterday that the build-up of Iraq's security forces was 75 per cent complete. This seems hopelessly over-optimistic. Only last week, Iraqi soldiers fled the town of Amarah when two rival Shia factions began to trade gunfire. Elsewhere, the security forces have been infiltrated by the very militias they are supposed to be subduing. The inhabitants of Baghdad are as terrified of uniformed soldiers as they are of militiamen.

For the past three years, the Bush administration has promised that security responsibility would be handed over to the Iraqi government when it was ready, and not before. Yet now we are told Iraq will be forced to take care of its own security in 18 months, come what may. It is quite likely that the situation in Iraq will actually be worse in a year and a half. If the US is going to set itself a timetable so unrelated to conditions on the ground, why does it not simply withdraw now?

There has been a lot of impatient talk in Washington of late about getting the Iraqi government to "step up to the plate". The inference is that Nouri al-Maliki's administration is deliberately stalling in taking over its security duties. But this only emphasises how detached from reality the Bush administration has become. Iraq's government is weak because it is perceived to be the puppet of the United States. And this points to a deeper truth. Foreign troops in Iraq are seen not as liberators, but occupiers. Neither the Bush administration nor indeed our own government has been able to grasp this most basic of facts. This explains why so many of their expectations of progress have crumbled to dust.

Now, once again, reality is being distorted to suit the purposes of those who brought this catastrophe upon Iraq in the first place. The latest flurry of diplomatic activity in Washington owes nothing to the security situation in Iraq, and everything to the dire need to salvage Republican votes across America next month.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before