Bush to face his public over Iraq

As the American people prepare to mark the second anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, President Bush will appear on their television screens to talk about Iraq.

American humble pie: Bush may need to beg for help in Iraq
American humble pie: Bush may need to beg for help in Iraq

It will not be the victory speech he hoped for.

The triumphal figure who last broadcast to the nation from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on 1 May, declaring combat operations over in front of a banner reading “Mission Accomplished”, will not have much good news to announce on Sunday.

He may be forced to grovel for troops and money to the United Nations and the European powers whose opposition he rode roughshod over in the march to war.

The occupying forces still face around 15 guerrilla attacks a day, and 67 US and 11 British troops have died in resistance attacks since Bush’s premature declaration.

Water and electricity are not flowing in many areas, and  several key oil and gas pipelines have been blown up.

Looting continues, the incidence of rape has escalated according to an Iraqi women’s group, and devastating bomb attacks have killed dozens at the Jordanian embassy, UN headquarters and the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf.

Home front

Bush will have to stretch his rhetorical powers to convince a watching public that the invasion of Iraq has spread peace and prosperity to its people.

Bush’s triumphal 1 May appearance, reproduced in miniature

Bush’s triumphal 1 May appearance, reproduced in miniature

He is facing growing doubts at home about the violent and unstable post-war Iraq.

Kevin Danaher, co-founder of the San Francisco-based rights group Global Exchange told Aljazeera that the combination of Bush’s failures in Iraq and his mismanagement of the economy would be his downfall.

He blamed the administration’s ignorance for its failure to stabilise Iraq, “They do not have regular contact with the affected peoples. It’s like having a guy who has never been on a bus running the bus company.”

Danaher said that Bush’s inability to judge the needs of Iraq is of a piece with his disastrous approach to the US economy, where huge tax cuts have benefited the rich and done nothing to save a dwindling job market, threaten to be his undoing at next year’s elections.

The sapping of dollars by US operations in Iraq, currently at a rate of about $1 billion a week, will also do little to reassure the electorate that there is a safe pair of hands at the helm.

“There is a domestic impact of these imperialist policies,” Danaher said, predicting that US voters would choose “anybody but Bush” in presidential elections next year.

No evidence of WMDs

“I recommend that you (Bush) allow the secretary and the deputy secretary of defence to return to the private sector”

Rep. David Obey,
Democrat congressman

Bush has linked the war on Iraq to his war on “terrorism” even though no conclusive evidence of weapons of mass destruction has been uncovered and no links between ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida have been established.

Bush is also coming under increasing fire from newly emboldened Democratic candidates for president, and members of Congress are also voicing concern that the United States is shouldering too much of the danger and financial burden in Iraq.

On Friday, Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the highest ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, called on Bush to fire Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

“I recommend that you allow the secretary and the deputy secretary of defence to return to the private sector,” Obey said in a letter to Bush. Obey said the pair had made “repeated and serious miscalculations” over the past year.

Troops losing heart

The morale of US soldiers based in Iraq is plummeting along with their leaders’ credibility, as the lengthy tour of duty and daily attacks are wearing them down.

Rumsfeld, who is currently on a brief visit to Iraq, failed to boost the morale of troops at their base at the palace of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in his hometown of Tikrit.

“I don’t give a damn about Rumsfeld. All I give a damn about is going home,” Specialist Rue Gretton told Reuters news agency on Friday.

“The only thing his visit meant for us was we had to clean up a lot of mess to make the place look pretty. And he didn’t even look at it anyway,” Gretton said after soldiers swept the dusty streets around the complex of lakes and mansions.

Instead, the Pentagon chief briefly thanked soldiers after a meeting with military leaders.

“If I got to talk to Rumsfeld I’d tell him to give us a return date”

Sgt. Green,
US 4th Infantry Division

“It was good for morale,” said Major Josslyn Alberle, a spokeswoman for the Fourth Infantry Division headquartered at the palace.

Sergeant Green, 40, disagreed.

“If I got to talk to Rumsfeld I’d tell him to give us a return date. We’ve been here six months and the rumour is we’ll be here until at least March. This is totally, totally uncalled for,” she said.

Green, who asked not to be identified by her first name, complained she would miss seeing her 16-year-old through her whole school year.
Rumsfeld has been criticised for sending too few troops to Iraq leaving them stretched thin on extended deployments trying to help rebuild the country and fight a guerrilla war.

He has urged allies to supply some 15,000 additional troops and hopes training Iraqi forces will ease the burden on US troops.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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