[Marxism] Bush administration laying pipe for pullout?

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Tue Aug 16 13:37:57 MDT 2005

Despite George Bush's continuing public bombast about "Iraqis taking control
of their country", officials in his administration are quietly putting out
the word that the war in Iraq is effectively lost. After having invaded Iraq
and turned it into a wasteland of destroyed lives and resources, they are
now conceding that their assumptions in launching the the invasion were
"unrealistic", both in terms of the level of popular resistance the US would
encounter, and the possibility of reconstructing Iraq along American lines.

In part, the purpose of the leaks may be to begin the construction of a
public rationale for an anticipated drawdown of US troops before the next
congressional elections. As one former Bush official told the Washington
Post: "In order to get out earlier, expectations are going to have to be
lower, even much lower. The higher your expectation, the longer you have to
stay". So now officials are suggesting success will not require the US "to
fully defeat the insurgency before departing, but instead to diminish it."
and that they can still "turn over security responsibilities to the Iraqi
forces even if they are not fully up to American expectations."

The Post report by Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer appeared on the front
page of the Sunday edition of the paper. Whatever their political motives,
it's clear that US officials have been "stunned" by "the surprising scope of
the insurgency", and they're under no illusions a a US withdrawal will  be
anything other than a rout, however they spin it. "We've said we won't leave
a day before it's necessary. But necessary is the key word -- necessary for
them or for us? When we finally depart, it will probably be for us," one
official said.

U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq
Administration Is Shedding 'Unreality' That Dominated Invasion, Official
By Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can
be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle
for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due
to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a
self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people
are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what
unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the
2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the
situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the

Administration officials still emphasize how much they have achieved despite
the chaos that followed the invasion and the escalating insurgency. "Iraqis
are taking control of their country, building a free nation that can govern
itself, sustain itself and defend itself. And we're helping Iraqis succeed,"
President Bush said yesterday in his radio address.

Iraqi officials yesterday struggled to agree on a draft constitution by a
deadline of tomorrow so the document can be submitted to a vote in October.
The political transition would be completed in December by elections for a
permanent government.

But the realities of daily life are a constant reminder of how the initial
U.S. ambitions have not been fulfilled in ways that Americans and Iraqis
once anticipated. Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity
for days in 120-degree heat. Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping
children indoors.

Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers
being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias
police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in
the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent.

U.S. officials say no turning point forced a reassessment. "It happened
rather gradually," said the senior official, triggered by everything from
the insurgency to shifting budgets to U.S. personnel changes in Baghdad.

The ferocious debate over a new constitution has particularly driven home
the gap between the original U.S. goals and the realities after almost 28
months. The U.S. decision to invade Iraq was justified in part by the goal
of establishing a secular and modern Iraq that honors human rights and
unites disparate ethnic and religious communities.

But whatever the outcome on specific disputes, the document on which Iraq's
future is to be built will require laws to be compliant with Islam. Kurds
and Shiites are expecting de facto long-term political privileges. And
women's rights will not be as firmly entrenched as Washington has tried to
insist, U.S. officials and Iraq analysts say.

"We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will
have some form of Islamic republic," said another U.S. official familiar
with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would
speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. "That process is being
repeated all over."

U.S. officials now acknowledge that they misread the strength of the
sentiment among Kurds and Shiites to create a special status. The Shiites'
request this month for autonomy to be guaranteed in the constitution stunned
the Bush administration, even after more than two years of intense
intervention in Iraq's political process, they said.

"We didn't calculate the depths of feeling in both the Kurdish and Shiite
communities for a winner-take-all attitude," said Judith S. Yaphe, a former
CIA Iraq analyst at the National Defense University.

In the race to meet a sequence of fall deadlines, the process of forging
national unity behind the constitution is largely being scrapped, current
and former officials involved in the transition said.

"We are definitely cutting corners and lowering our ambitions in democracy
building," said Larry Diamond, a Stanford University democracy expert who
worked with the U.S. occupation government and wrote the book "Squandered
Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy
to Iraq."

"Under pressure to get a constitution done, they've lowered their own
ambitions in terms of getting a document that is going to be very
far-reaching and democratic. We also don't have the time to go through the
process we envisioned when we wrote the interim constitution -- to build a
democratic culture and consensus through debate over a permanent
constitution," he said.

The goal now is to ensure a constitution that can be easily amended later so
Iraq can grow into a democracy, U.S. officials say.

On security, the administration originally expected the U.S.-led coalition
to be welcomed with rice and rosewater, traditional Arab greetings, with
only a limited reaction from loyalists of ousted Iraqi president Saddam
Hussein. The surprising scope of the insurgency and influx of foreign
fighters has forced Washington to repeatedly lower expectations -- about the
time-frame for quelling the insurgency and creating an effective and
cohesive Iraqi force capable of stepping in, U.S. officials said.

Killings of members of the Iraqi security force have tripled since January.
Iraq's ministry of health estimates that bombings and other attacks have
killed 4,000 civilians in Baghdad since Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari's
interim government took office April 28.

Last week was the fourth-worst week of the whole war for U.S. military
deaths in combat, and August already is the worst month for deaths of
members of the National Guard and Reserve.

Attacks on U.S. convoys by insurgents using roadside bombs have doubled over
the past year, Army Brig. Gen. Yves Fontaine said Friday. Convoys ferrying
food, fuel, water, arms and equipment from Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey are
attacked about 30 times a week, Fontaine said.

"There has been a realistic reassessment of what it is possible to achieve
in the short term and fashion a partial exit strategy," Yaphe said. "This
change is dictated not just by events on the ground but by unrealistic
expectations at the start."

Washington now does not expect to fully defeat the insurgency before
departing, but instead to diminish it, officials and analysts said. There is
also growing talk of turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqi
forces even if they are not fully up to original U.S. expectations, in part
because they have local legitimacy that U.S. troops often do not.

"We've said we won't leave a day before it's necessary. But necessary is the
key word -- necessary for them or for us? When we finally depart, it will
probably be for us," a U.S. official said.

Pressed by the cost of fighting an escalating insurgency, U.S. expectations
for rebuilding Iraq -- and its $20 billion investment -- have fallen the
farthest, current and former officials say.

Pentagon officials originally envisioned Iraq's oil revenue paying many
post-invasion expenses. But Iraq, ranked among world leaders behind Saudi
Arabia in proven oil reserves, is incapable of producing enough refined fuel
amid a car-buying boom that has put an estimated 1 million more vehicles on
the road after the invasion. Lines for subsidized cheap gas stretch for
miles every day in Baghdad.

Oil production is estimated at 2.22 million barrels a day, short of the goal
of 2.5 million. Iraq's pre-war high was 2.67 million barrels a day.

The United States had high hopes of quick, big-budget fixes for the
electrical power system that would show Iraqis tangible benefits from the
ouster of Hussein. But inadequate training for Iraqi staff, regional
rivalries restricting the power flow to Baghdad, inadequate fuel for
electrical generators and attacks on the infrastructure have contributed to
the worst summer of electrical shortages in the capital.

Water is also a "tough, tough" situation in a desert country, said a U.S.
official in Baghdad familiar with reconstruction issues. Pumping stations
depend on electricity, and engineers now say the system has hundreds of
thousands of leaks.

"The most thoroughly dashed expectation was the ability to build a robust
self-sustaining economy. We're nowhere near that. State industries,
electricity are all below what they were before we got there," said Wayne
White, former head of the State Department's Iraq intelligence team who is
now at the Middle East Institute. "The administration says Saddam ran down
the country. But most damage was from looting [after the invasion], which
took down state industries, large private manufacturing, the national
electric" system.

Ironically, White said, the initial ambitions may have complicated the U.S.
mission: "In order to get out earlier, expectations are going to have to be
lower, even much lower. The higher your expectation, the longer you have to
stay. Getting out is going to be a more important consideration than the
original goals were. They were unrealistic."

Knickmeyer reported from Baghdad.


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