Column No. 131A By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH – December 31, 2006
Saddam’s execution is complete.
Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune succinctly states the consequences for Bush:
[T[he hanging of the longtime Iraqi strongman does not alter the fundamental problems that Bush faces: Reclaiming public support in the U.S. for a war that a majority of Americans now oppose, and charting a convincing course for the victory that Bush vows to achieve before withdrawing U.S. forces. . . .
For Bush, the key to regaining public confidence in his handling of the war is likely to lie in the success of "the new way forward" in Iraq that he promises to spell out with the arrival of the New Year.
Meanwhile, Sunni Iraqis are calling for revenge against Americans occupying Iraq:
Saddam Hussein's Baath Party exhorted Iraqis to "strike without mercy" at the U.S. occupiers and Shi'ite Iran to avenge the execution of Iraq's former president but warned them not to be drawn into a civil war.
"Today is your great day. Strike without mercy at the joint enemy in Iraq -- America and Iran," the party said in a statement posted on an Iraqi Web site on Saturday.
"Forget your organisational structures and take the stand of honour you deserve which is to take revenge for Saddam Hussein," said the statement, posted on the www.albasrah.net.
All of this occurs as Bush remains in Crawford, Texas planning the escalation of the war in Iraq. Dr. Steven Jonas, TPJ’s Contributing Author, authored an insightful analysis for Buzz Flash (a TPJ favorite):
Bush appears to be delusional about Iraq, at least in public. At his Dec. 20, 2006 news conference he said that the U.S. needs to increase the overall size of the Army and the Marine Corps (when neither service can presently meet its recruiting goals). He also said that insurgents in Iraq thwarted U.S. efforts at "establishing security and stability throughout the country" in 2006. These "enemies of liberty ... carried out a deliberate strategy to foment sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shia. And over the course of the year they had success." He announced that the Selective Service would be running "tests" at some time in the future related to reinstating the draft. He also pledged to work with the new Democratic Congress. Further, he announced that first four of the 20-30,000 additional US troops to be sent to Iraq would be his two daughters and his niece and nephew, all, it happens, of draft age, were the draft to be reinstated as Bush has said it might have to be. (Yes, I did sneak that last one in.)
It seems that Bush has decided to send those additional 30,000 troops, in a "surge" to do something (although exactly what has not yet been announced). So why 30,000? Not that we have them to spare without recycling and extending tours, but why not 50,000, or why not 20,000? Since "I always listen to my Generals and make my military decisions based on what they tell me, except when I don't" Bush is obviously not listening to his military Generals, who is he listening to?
Well, this one has the fingerprints of General "I change Constitutions" Rove (The Guardian (UK) Nov. 25, 2004, Sidney Blumenthal) all over it. Militarily it makes no sense, so the generals tell us. Politically it does, for Rovian, always attack, never defend, politics. This move is clearly intended to put the Democrats, not the Iraqi insurgents, Sunni, Shiite and other, on the defensive. Bush wants to appear to be "doing something," to "be in charge," and surely to be in a position to be able to blame the Dems. for any failures, as he defines them, should they somehow block the 30,000. His talk of the draft is of the same ilk. The buck never stops on his desk, and if he can kick it onto the desk of an enemy, and for him the Democrats are just as much enemies as are the Iraqis, so much the better.
In his superb history of the Era of Georgite Propaganda, Frank Rich (The Greatest Story Ever Sold), repeatedly makes the point that every major decision about the Iraq War, from the occasion the invasion was publicly announced to be timed with the 2002, on to, as Rich puts it, the point when (p. 222): "[the] administration was forced into rebuilding Iraq, it would [further] time every pivot point, from the creation of a constitution to the scheduling of elections, to deadlines dictated by Rove's political goals at home (whether a State of the Union speech or a domestic election), rather than to the patience-requiring realities of forging a post-Saddam government."
And so, it is not Bush, but the Democrats who are delusional, about Bush, if they cannot see this for what it is: a naked political ploy.