Iraq’s moment of reckoning

WHEN US forces tore down Saddam’s statue in Baghdad to symbolise his regime’s end, the last thing White House neocons would have foreseen was hundreds of thousands taking to the streets exactly four yours later, asking for the same forces to leave.

The latest high-profile figure to lament Iraq’s sick situation was the Pope in his Easter address, pointing to the obvious that nothing positive ever comes from there. Yet as the slaughter rages and all and sundry call for whatever it takes to halt the violence, the invasion’s chief architects continue to defend the decision as the right thing to do, still sprouting out the same politically correct rhetoric, still claiming Iraq has become so much better now the brutal dictator is dead and buried.

And everybody also realises that so long as the Bush administration occupies the White House, the only likely change can be more-muscle, and subsequently more bloodshed. Importantly, two aspects of the four-year madness in Iraq have left the international community particularly bewildered.

First and foremost is not only the limit, but helplessness of the world’s most fearsome fighting machine in the face of a sporadic guerilla insurgency. The so-called terrorists have shamed the American military into passivity. Even with the latest troop-surge, things continue to tilt to increasingly-worse, with nothing on the horizon to suggest anything can improve at any time in the future.

Second, and perhaps more important, is the utter helplessness of practically the whole world to make the Bush administration realise the magnitude of its folly. Somewhat unbelievably, George Bush and his sabre-rattlers continue to defy domestic and international opinion, Congress as well as the people, international leaders and the UN, and press ahead with their war-agenda. Ordinarily it should take little more than common sense to realise that continued rigidity and refusal to admit defeat will only amount to much, much more embarrassment and loss later.

Most Iraqis now seem to believe that before anything else, the occupying forces should simply leave. Will that stop, or even reduce the violence when most of it is between Iraqis themselves? One thing is clear, their continued presence will achieve neither.

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