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Bush’s Plan Will Not Succeed - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Instead of withdrawing his forces from Iraq, American President George W. Bush decided to increase their number by 20,000 soldiers in hope of improving the situation there. Instead of heeding the advice urging him to reconcilliate with Iran and Syria, his intention is to straiten conditions for the two countries through financial restrictions and by exerting political pressure with some concessions – such as the introduction of changes in the front, which is comprised of military and civilian officials responsible for managing the Iraqi crisis.

Such language conveys that the president does not feel an obligation to listen or respond to the Congress’s stance, which was expressed in the Baker-Hamilton report and which called for a schedule for withdrawal. By employing this language, the president puts across that he has his own vision. It is expected that there will be quite a few changes to a number of figures, in addition to a little more flexibility in dealing with Iraqi Baathist opponents.

However, no one can agree with him in deeming the increase of troops a good idea because the suggested figure is less than what could substantially alter the situation on the ground, or improve the American forces’ ability to confront their enemies of Sunnis and Shia extremists and militants. Increasing 20,000 soldiers means that only 7,000 soldiers can work at the same time, taking into account durations and holidays. Thus it can be acknowledged that this will not achieve much for Bush, but will rather invite more criticism and incur more losses.

The dilemma America faces, for both those for- and against- direct military presence on Iraqi soil can be represented in the fact that a withdrawal would mean increased risks that would endanger American interests, not just the management of the Iraqi crisis. The withdrawal would signify defeat, which would result in strengthening all the enemies’ desire for expansion, such as Iran’s persistence in developing its nuclear weapons and al Qaeda would double its activities in Iraq and the whole region.

The options available are limited, all of which indicate the return of the army and fighting on the ground, seeing as these two aforementioned risks would directly affect American national security. It does not matter what is being said now since some of those who call upon Bush to withdraw are the very parties who hold former President Bill Clinton responsible for the events of September 11, under the pretext that he slacked in going after al Qaeda since it began its activities and became a real threat.

As for the American public opinion, which is fed up with failures in Iraq, it will probably change if they were to realize that oil is subjected to Iran’s threat, or al Qaeda’s success in perpetrating huge attacks. These two reasons suffice to raise internal discontent and redeploy American forces in the region. Even the Baker-Hamilton report, despite calling for withdrawal, still demands reinforcing the US troops in general – in addition to adopting zero tolerance for terrorism, including that in Afghanistan. This is a contradiction that does not work with the report’s call for withdrawal and appeasement.

While Bush insists on increasing forces in Iraq, he is actually risking an inevitable outcome ¬– that he will not succeed in achieving a victory there. He will not decrease the number of casualties, but rather will reap more criticism and internal rebuke and will be forced to withdraw or reduce American forces in Iraq to an extent that would completely paralyze them.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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