Friday, September 17, 2004

IRAQ: Reality Check Badly Needed

IRAQ: Reality Check Badly Needed

The White House has a problem recognizing reality. With the U.S. mired
in a bloody war that gets grimmer with each passing day, President Bush
clings to the rosiest projections, no matter how unlikely. Suicide
bombings, kidnappings, rising casualties, cities under siege and ambushes
all paint a picture of a nation descending into intractable violence. In
just 17 days this month, 52 U.S. soldiers have died, threatening to
make September the second deadliest month in the 18 months since the war
. And these clashes came a day after a team of kidnappers grabbed two
Americans and a Briton in an early morning raid on their home. Even the
fortified Green Zone is no longer completely secure
( .
Yet the White House refuses to acknowledge the situation is spiraling
dangerously out of control, preferring disingenuous rhetoric to hard

HEAD IN THE SAND: A classified National Intelligence Estimate, given to
President Bush in July, "spells out a dark assessment of prospects for
Iraq ( ... The
estimate outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005,
with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war,
the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose
stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security
terms." However, the president is continuing to misrepresent the situation
to the American public. On 8/5/04
( , he
stated, "[Iraq is] on the path to lasting democracy and liberty." His
press secretary, Scott McClellan, said on 9/15/04
( , "The
President talks often about the progress we've made in places

CONSERVATIVES SPEAK OUT: The president may be out of touch with
reality, but his fellow conservatives are increasingly concerned about the
deteriorating situation. Conservative Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), noting the
White House's recent plan to divert $3.4 billion from reconstruction
efforts to emergency security efforts, said: "Now, that does not add up,
in my opinion, to a pretty picture, to a picture that shows that we're
winning. But it does add up to this: an acknowledgment that we are in
deep trouble
." Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) also "expressed exasperation at the
administration's rosy prewar assessments that as soon as Hussein was deposed,
a euphoric Iraqi population would embrace democracy." He charged, " The
nonsense of that is [now] apparent

CRESCENDO OF CRITICISM: Some of the nation's editorial boards
criticized the president's lack of candor on Iraq today. USA Today points out,
"While all of the options have downsides, the longer the administration
denies the deepening crisis in Iraq, the longer the crisis will fester
. That places U.S. troops in greater peril, risks turning Iraq into a
terrorist haven and dims hopes of creating a viable government, much
less a model of democracy in the Middle East." Despite the NIE report
projecting "dicey to disastrous" scenarios for Iraq, the Boston Globe
notes, "President Bush and Vice President Cheney nevertheless go on
campaigning on the false pretense
that their Iraq policy has been a great success." Instead, "continuing
mayhem...casts light on the unmistakable failures of the Bush
administration's efforts at peacemaking and nation-building in postwar Iraq."

NO EVIDENCE OF WEAPONS: Before the invasion, President Bush and his
administration hyped the threat of an armed and dangerous Iraq to frighten
Americans into supporting the war. President Bush ominously warned on
10/7/02, " Iraq could have a nuclear weapon
( in
less than a year." Vice President Cheney did him one better, claiming, "
We believe Saddam has
( , in
fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." And Donald Rumsfeld sounded the
alarm bells, saying, " We know where the [WMDs] are
." A new report by the top American weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles
A. Duelfer, finds " no evidence
that Iraq had begun any large-scale program for weapons production by
the time of the American invasion last year." According to the report,
which will be made public in the upcoming weeks, the sanctions put in
place by the United Nations were holding these desires firmly in check.
The report provides another devastating blow to the administration's
case for rushing to war.