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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Iraqi "snake" bites President Bush

Andy Martin on Al-Maliki, Obama—and Bush. Middle East expert Martin provides unique insight based on almost forty years in the region. Andy served as a Baghdad bureau chief in 2003 and was Paul Bremer's first detractor.

Iraqi snake bites President Bush
Executive Editor

“Factually Correct, Not
Politically Correct”


(NEW YORK)(July 23, 2008) This week an Iraqi snake bit President Bush. Noor Al-Maliki sought to promote the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama. Maybe Saddam Hussein was right all along about Iraqis. Bush was certainly wrong.

First, a brief history for our new readers: I probably became the first name on President Bush's enemies list when I predicted--in December, 1999--he would bomb Iraq (video coming on YouTube). I knew Bush better than he knew himself.

Having spent over thirty years in the Middle East, I was a strong opponent of the Iraq invasion in 2002-2003 and predicted it would backfire. I spent most of 2003 in Baghdad, predicting the tranquility would evaporate and the chaos would return. In 2007 I surprisingly predicted President Bush's "surge" might work. Finally, I have always recognized that no nation and no people enjoy or welcome the presence of foreign troops.

Nevertheless, Al-Maliki's "endorsement" of Obama was the act of a snake, not a statesman.
President Bush is going to be regarded as a tragic figure by history. Everyone close to him betrayed him. His civilian defense officials betrayed him by endorsing the folly of an Iraq invasion. Vice president Cheney betrayed him by proffering the same advice. The entire enterprise was doomed from its inception. Saddam Hussein was a colossal nuisance in the Middle East. But he was no threat to the United States. And he played an extremely useful role in containing Iran's regional ambitions.

Bush was a "believer" who thought removing Saddam would make Iraq a fertile field for democracy. At the time of Saddam's removal, Shiite leaders such as Al-Maliki were either imprisoned and tortured, or in exile, or silenced. Goaded on by his blinded and arrogant advisers, Bush pursued his dream beyond reason. At each juncture when he could have walked away and written off his misadventure in Iraq, Bush "stayed the course."

When the Iraq mission was again failing in 2006, and the new government's enemies were creating chaos, Bush went forward with the "surge." Now that Iraqis are again enjoying relative peace in 2008, their leader Al-Maliki has bitten the hand that fed them, George Bush. Al-Maliki chose to support the one individual whose failed policies would have left Iraq either under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam in 2003, or exposed to perpetual chaos and sectarian violence in 2007--Barack Obama.

Practically speaking, Bush is stuck and the American people are stuck with the need to continue a U. S. presence in Iraq. Even opponents of the war such as myself are forced to argue for maintaining a military force to maintain order. The Powell/Pottery Barn doctrine that Bush ignored, has trapped him. We broke it. We have to fix it. We "own it."

I wish we could all leave Iraq tomorrow. I wish we had never gone in. Obama supporter Governor Bill Richardson wants Americans to throw down their weapons and flee Iraq in panic, thereby creating a new round of mayhem, murder and instability throughout the region. I cannot endorse such an irrational policy today, any more than I could endorse the irrational invasion in 2003.

The Iraqis, of course have deeply conflicted attitudes. On one hand, American men and women enforce relative peace. They know we destroyed the existing social and military structures in 2003; we have not yet built robust and solid replacements. Military and paramilitary organizations such as local police cannot be created overnight. It takes years. The New York Police are 150 years old, and they still have to struggle every day to maintain order and discipline both internally in the police force itself and out among the people. Maintaining public safety is not an easy task under the best of conditions.

Some Americans, moreover, are crass and impractical. The Democratic Congress created a surge-related list of goals for the Iraqi government in 2007. Obama has relentlessly criticized the lack of "political progress" in Iraq. Oh? Here in the United States we have over 200 years of experience with freedom and democracy, and we still do not have everything just right and perfect. We fight over health care, labor policies, financial regulation and other matters of national importance.

"Politics" does not germinate overnight either. It takes years for people to learn to negotiate, bargain, accept defeat, compromise. The Democrats' demand that Iraq become a fully functional democracy in a year was always sheer nonsense.

Sadly, the Middle East and Arab nations have not developed deep democratic foundations since the end of the colonial era. I vividly remember the day the Iraqi king was overthrown in 1958. Decades of chaos followed. Dictators and kleptocracies predominate throughout the region. Bush was always unrealistic to believe he could force feed democracy into this cauldron of instability.
No one likes to have foreign forces on their soil. Iraqis are no different I know from "my year in Baghdad" that even the best of Iraqis would like us gone—as long as we did not leave a new blood bath and renewed disintegration in our wake.

Nevertheless, when the history of this era is written, Bush will be seen as a leader who was betrayed by his closest associates, and who launched a forlorn war. He sacrificed the goodwill of his family's dynasty on the alter of Iraqi "democracy." He sacrificed tens of thousands of American lives in wounded and dead, to "free" Iraq.

Al-Maliki would not be a leader today if Bush had not removed Saddam Hussein. Al-Maliki would be in jail or exile, or possibly even dead. So the current Shiite-dominated ruling class of Iraq owes President George Bush a great debt of gratitude. However wrongfully, however mistakenly, however foolishly, Bush freed Iraq from Saddam.

Al-Maliki's "thank you" to Bush? He endorsed Obama and endorsed the senator's asinine plan to withdraw on a rigid fixed schedule. No doubt Bush's White house was shocked to learn Al-Maliki had given a German magazine an interview in which A-M endorsed Obama's plans. Bush must have been even more shocked when A-M's spokesman repeated the endorsement this week after Obama was given a royal welcome by Al-Maliki. Al-Maliki, of course, was pandering to the emotions of Iraqi citizens. Maybe they are learning politics after all; the snakes are biting their benefactor.

Here's a lessen Mr. Al-Maliki should learn from American politics: "you have to dance with the one that brung you." Dumping Bush and backing Barack may backfire.

Bush and his partisans feel history well treat them better than today's news media. I am doubtful. It is very possible the worst is yet to come. In 2003, I predicted the two big losers from the invasion would be the United States and Israel. Sadly, my prediction was accurate. In my opinion, history will judge Bush even more harshly than his contemporaries have.

"Mookie" Al-Sadr is no friend of Bush or America. He wants us out of Iraq "yesterday." Al-Maliki and his "party" at least have been working with Bush, apparently on a two-faced basis. But, with the loyalty of snakes, Al-Maliki & Co. betrayed Bush this week by endorsing Obama's puerile and facile plan for a fixed American withdrawal. Ironically, a premature American departure may doom Al-Maliki's own government. Talk about biting your nose to spite your face.

President Bush: welcome to the Middle East. Enjoy your stay.

Saddam Hussein, anyone?
Andy Martin is working on a new book of his collected commentary from Baghdad, as well as his writing prior to the 2003 Iraq invasion. "Andy Martin in Iraq" is planned for publication in 2009.
Andy Martin is a legendary Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of © Copyright by Andy Martin 2008. Martin covers regional, national and world events with over forty years of experience. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. His columns are also posted at; Andy is the author of Obama: The Man Behind The Mask, published in July 2008, see MEDIA CONTACT: (866) 706-2639 E-MAIL: [NOTE: We frequently correct typographical errors and additions/subtractions on our blogs, where you can find the latest edition of this release.]


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