One of the Bush Administration's most pernicious propaganda triumphs has been the baseless claim that the so-called surge has been a success. Only in Bush's world of spin does one increase troops in order to reduce them. Only in Bush's world of spin is it considered a triumph when more troops are required than when the war started. Only in Bush's echo chamber is a "surge " a continuous operation - the "surge" troops still haven't come home. The "surge" has not resulted in any troop reductions. The surge has not brought peace to rival factions.
Meanwhile, the tribal and sectarian forces within Bagdad are biding their time, fully aware that the United States, depleted by mismanagement, incompetence and a failed economy, cannot afford to continue an occupation indefinitely, even if an Obama administration were to desire it. Bush has knowingly placed the Iraqi War in a holding pattern, knowing that if his "surge" holds just long enough for him to exit the White House, any withdrawal of troops and subsequent collapse of Iraqi "stability" will be placed at the feet of Obama and the Democrats. And this is precisely the illusion that Galbraith is puncturing.
George Bush lost the war.
It is a pity that Obama did not respond more forcefully to Republican claims of success, as it will make the inevitable Republican onslaught all the more difficult to counter, but Galbraith provides the argument, ammunition and the evidence. Even conservative columnist David Brooks considers in the "smartest and most devastating" critic of President George W. Bush's Iraq policies.
"Peter Galbraith was the earliest expert to describe Iraq's breakup into religious and ethnic entities, a reality now commonly accepted.
The Iraq war was intended to make the United States more secure, bring democracy to the Middle East, intimidate Iran and Syria, help win the war on terror, consolidate American world leadership, and entrench the Republican Party for decades. Instead,
- Bush handed Iran its greatest strategic triumph in four centuries
- U.S. troops now fight to support an Iraqi government led by religious parties intent on creating an Iranian-style Islamic republic
- As part of the surge, the United States created a Sunni militia led by the same Baathists the U.S. invaded Iraq to overthrow administration gave Iran and North Korea a free pass to advance their nuclear programs
- Obsessed with Iraq's nonexistent WMD, the Bush administration gave Iran and North Korea a free pass to advance their nuclear programs
- Turkey, a key NANATO ally long considered a model pro-Western Muslim democracy, became one of the most anti-American countries in the world
- U.S. prestige around the world reached an all-time low
Iraq: Galbraith challenges the assertion that the surge will lead to victory. By creating a Sunni army, the surge has, in fact, contributed to Iraq's breakup and set the stage for an intensified civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. If the United States wishes to escape the Iraq quagmire, it must face up to the reality that the country has broken up and cannot be put back together.
Iran: Having helped Iran's allies take control in Baghdad, the Bush administration no longer has a viable military option to stop Iran's nuclear program. Galbraith discusses how a president more pragmatic than Bush might get Iran to freeze its nuclear program as part of a package deal to upgrade relations between two countries equally threatened by Sunni extremism.
Turkey, Syria, and Israel: A war intended to make Israel more secure, undermine Syria's Assad regime, and strengthen ties with Turkey has had the opposite result.
Nationalism: In the coming decades, other countries may follow Iraq's example in fragmenting along ethnic and religious lines. Galbraith draws on his considerable experience in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia to predict where and what the United States might do about it."The Democrats, Republicans and Obama need to level with the American people before George Bush leaves the White House. Place responsibility for this fiasco, for the lost war, where it belongs.