Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Not On the Breakfast Menu—Humble Pie

President Bush has a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Malaki of Iraq tomorrow morning and it is not a Breakfast of Champions, but a breaking of bread among broken dreams and shattered promises.

Bushmaliki_1 President Bush has a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Malaki of Iraq tomorrow morning and it is not a Breakfast of Champions, but a breaking of bread among broken dreams and shattered promises.
The dream was never Iraqi, nor were the promises. Iraq, like so much of the world, went along to get along, both with Saddam Hussein and invading American troops. The civil society Iraqis lived under, that George Bush found so abhorrent, was much like the Iranian dictatorship America forged out of its placement of the Shah of Iran at the head of government. America armed and supported that government until the Shah took a quick trip for medical treatment and the wheels came off.
Much depends upon whose ox is being gored.
Bushexplainer_2 Suddenly, our steadfast president is deciding that the blame for what-all has gone wrong-all in Iraq is not the fault of American planning or execution. He is free to decide that. He is The Decider. Bush remembers (and remembers well) the words of Don Rumsfeld, that Stuff happens. In the disintegration of policy and expectation that George and Don shared, stuff finally happened to Rummy. Stuff hangs over Bush’s head these days as well.
There will be a lot on tomorrow’s breakfast menu besides scrambled eggs and pancakes. At the top of the choices, Bush’s demand to know “What do we need to do to succeed?” The Iraqi minister deserves better than to be asked a question George Bush has ducked for three years. But this breakfast is not about deserving, it’s about blaming the rape victim for being too provocatively dressed.
“What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence? I will ask him: What is required and what is your strategy to be a country which can govern itself and sustain itself?"
Iraqimaliki_1 Bush the father once threw up in the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister. Won’t happen. Arab stomachs are tough and it would just be too poetic, too appropriate, to easy a rebuttal to being made victim and then blamed as victim. What, Mr. Maliki must wonder, has brought me to this strange table with this strange man, my country in wreckage, made scapegoat in English. In Allah’s name, not even Arabic.
"This is a relationship of candor," said Bush's national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, referring to the dialogue between the U.S. president and the Iraqi prime minister. If candor is ‘the ability to make judgments free from discrimination or dishonesty,’ then Hadley has picked the wrong word for what can only be called whipping the already-whipped.
Anthony Shadid, the Washington Post reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his Iraq coverage, was quoted by Maureen Dowd this past Saturday. In a recent return-visit to Iraq, he described
"the final, frenzied maturity of once-inchoate forces unleashed more than three years ago by the invasion. There was civil-war-style sectarian killing, its echoes in Lebanon a generation ago. Alongside it were gangland turf battles over money, power and survival; a raft of political parties and their militias fighting a zero-sum game; a raging insurgency; the collapse of authority; social services a chimera; and no way forward for an Iraqi government ordered to act by Americans who themselves are still seen as the final arbiter and, as a result, still depriving that government of legitimacy. Civil war was perhaps too easy a term, a little too tidy."
After three years of listening to no one, taking no counsel among Iraq’s Arab neighbors, bull-headedly refusing to change or even modify strategy to meet field conditions and wrecking every civil and military institution in Iraq, Mr. Bush has dropped the whole mess into Malaki’s lap. The public declaration of breakfast agenda, “What is your strategy?” was followed almost immediately on Bush’s rhetorical schedule. Metaphorically staying the course, he announced in Tallinn, Estonia
"There is one thing I'm not going to do. I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete."
Now we’re in for an unknown period of dying, both Iraqi and American, until a satisfactory definition of complete is rendered. This is so in the pattern of Vietnam that it matters little that George Bush avoided that war. He is living its reincarnation.
Cheneyiraq_4 Bush has been beaten-up by the Jordanian King, just as Cheney was ordered to Saudi Arabia to take it on the chin from the Saudi King. One wonders if they have yet had time to compare notes. What is it with these kings, Dick? In any event, the Iraqi President has been meeting with both Syria and Iran in a desperate attempt to save what little is left to save in Iraq. American influence at this particular moment is close to nil, although Bush tried to put a face-saving face on it.
"Iraq is a sovereign nation which is conducting its own foreign policy. They're having talks with their neighbors," he said. "If that's what they think they ought to do, that's fine. I hope their talks yield results. One result that Iraq would like to see is for the Iranians to leave them alone. If Iran is going to be involved in their country, they ought to be involved in a constructive way, encouraging peace."
It’s amazing what a reversal at the American ballot-box can achieve.
The Bush presidency and the Maliki quasi-democracy are both bankrupt. At tomorrow morning’s breakfast, one can only wonder which of these penniless leaders will be able to pick up the check.
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