[Marxism] Dog Bites Dickhead

M. Junaid Alam junaidalam1 at gmail.com
Tue Aug 15 21:44:49 MDT 2006

August 16, 2006 Policy
 Bush Said to Be Frustrated by Level of Public Support in Iraq  By THOM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 — President Bush made clear in a private meeting this
week that he was concerned about the lack of progress in
frustrated that the new Iraqi government — and the Iraqi people — had
not shown greater public support for the American mission, participants in
the meeting said Tuesday.

Those who attended a Monday lunch at the Pentagon that included the
president's war cabinet and several outside experts said Mr. Bush carefully
avoided expressing a clear personal view of the new prime minister of
Iraq, Nuri
Kamal al-Maliki<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/nuri_kamal_al-maliki/index.html?inline=nyt-per>

But in what participants described as a telling line of questioning, Mr.
Bush did ask each of the academic experts for their assessment of the prime
minister's effectiveness.

"I sensed a frustration with the lack of progress on the bigger picture of
Iraq generally — that we continue to lose a lot of lives, it continues to
sap our budget," said one person who attended the meeting. "The president
wants the people in Iraq to get more on board to bring success."

Another person who attended the session said he interpreted Mr. Bush's
comments less as an expression of frustration than as uncertainty over the
prospects of the new Iraqi government. "He said he really didn't quite have
a sense yet of how effective the government was," said this person, who,
like several who discussed the session, agreed to speak only anonymously
because it was a private lunch.

More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration
that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had
made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in
support of Hezbollah<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/h/hezbollah/index.html?inline=nyt-org>in
Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. "I do think he was frustrated
about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against
the United States," said another person who attended.

The White House would not comment on the details of the discussion but a
senior official warned against drawing conclusions on what the president
thinks based on questions he asked in the process of drawing out the invited

Participants said Mr. Bush appeared serious and engaged during the lunch,
which lasted more than 90 minutes, as the experts went through a lengthy
discussion of the political, ethnic, religious and security challenges in
Iraq. And through it all, Mr. Bush showed no signs of veering from the
administration's policies to support the new government and train Iraqi
security forces to take over the fight, and only then bring American troops

One participant in the lunch, Carole A. O'Leary, a professor at American
University who is also doing work in Iraq with a State Department grant,
said Mr. Bush expressed the view that "the Shia-led government needs to
clearly and publicly express the same appreciation for United States efforts
and sacrifices as they do in private."

The White House began to open its doors to a wider range of views earlier
this year, after acknowledging that months of complaints after Hurricane
Katrina that the president and his team were isolated — "living in a bubble"
was a frequent refrain — had gotten through. But that accelerated after Joshua
B. Bolten<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/joshua_b_bolten/index.html?inline=nyt-per>became
White House chief of staff in the spring.

One of the participants at the Monday lunch, Eric Davis, a Rutgers
science professor who previously served as director of the
university's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, released a text of his

Mr. Davis said he discussed the regional upheaval that could follow if Iraq
descended into chaos or was allowed to divide along ethnic lines. "I believe
that the American people do not fully understand the potential domino
effects that the collapse of Iraq into disorder and anarchy would have on
the Middle East and the global political system," he said.

Mr. Davis said he urged the creation of more jobs for younger Iraqis, and
proposed a major reconstruction fund to be underwritten by Saudi Arabia and
other Arab oil states seeking regional stability.

Although none of the academics openly criticized Bush administration policy,
according to those in attendance, Mr. Davis did take issue with the
administration's order to remove Baath Party members from public service,
and he urged the hiring of more qualified Baathists in Iraq or living
abroad, and inviting retired army officers back into service.

Vali R. Nasr, an expert on Shia Islam, said the Pentagon meeting appeared to
be an effort to give White House, Pentagon and State Department officials
better insight into Iraq's religious and ethnic mix.

"They wanted new insight, so they could better understand the arena in which
they are making policy," said Mr. Nasr, author of "The Shia Revival." He
said he got no sense that the Bush administration was contemplating a shift
in its Iraq policy.

Some who have been brought into past meetings with President Bush, even
fierce critics of the conduct of the Iraq war, give credit to the White
House for beginning to listen to alternate viewpoints.

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/barry_r_mccaffrey/index.html?inline=nyt-per>,
a retired Army commander who went to the White House in May, said he
believed that Mr. Bolten has been largely responsible for bringing in new
voices to counsel the president.

"They're listening to new ideas and they're listening to the reality," said
General McCaffrey, who has criticized Defense Secretary Donald H.
believes that the Iraq war could break the United States Army.

But one critic of the administration's management of the war effort said he
remained unconvinced that the White House was actually listening to
alternative viewpoints.

The critic, Senator Carl
Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said
in a
telephone interview that "one of the hallmarks of this administration has
been stubbornness to any change of approach."

Jim Rutenberg contributed reporting for this article.

M. Junaid Alam

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