Iraq’s many ironies

HOW can important leaders with critical bearing on Iraq’s future – on either side of the Atlantic – expect a reversal in their approval ratings when they betray an almost offensive disregard for ground realities?

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Published: Tue 17 Jul 2007, 8:59 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:55 AM

Iraq’s violence, which has been steadily growing over the last few years, suddenly increased following George Bush’s troop-surge, yet the US president sees “reason for optimism” and considers the war winnable only now.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki on the other hand says his army is ready to take over should the Americans decide to leave at any point in time, not realising the freshly trained boys’ limits in face of a fierce insurgency that has embarrassed the most potent army in the world. What is more, he defends his government’s progress as best possible in face of such violence, as if the chaos did not stem from gross mismanagement in the first place.

More than Bush or Maliki, it is Iraq’s people that will have the worst of the mix. As Republicans join the quit-Iraq bandwagon atop Capitol Hill, the troops’ staying or leaving, now or in April, will arguably make little difference for the people who have yet to see running water and electricity since Saddam was deposed. Despite not finding place in the international media, those are of course the least of their worries, considering the unending madness and chaos, amounting to hundreds of lives wasted every day.

Granted, if the troops stage a sudden exit, the insurgents will claim victory and quickly fill the vacuum that the retreating army will leave behind. On the other hand, “staying the course” will continue to provide a common target for the many battling-groups, as is evident from the ill-advised troop increase. How today’s Iraq is in anyway better than the one war-against-terrorism tanks rolled into just after their planes flattened signs of resistance is very, very hard to see.

Ironically, neither pulling out nor remaining seems the way to control the continuing death and destruction across the length and breadth of Iraq. This puts those in charge in a painful dilemma, one that shows little signs of receding, try as Bush or Maliki might. But perhaps the biggest, even farcical irony would be Congress enforcing a troop withdrawal and a yet more bloody Iraq prompting Bush to claim, “I told you so” when he would still be responsible for the continuing carnage.

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