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August 26, 2005

Total failure

As Bush surveys the wreckage of Iraq’s constitution—and ponders his own ill-judged intervention on Thursday—he can take pride in his administration’s impressive role in creating the current crisis. From Juan Cole on Salon:

On Tuesday, President George W. Bush issued what could be seen as a threat against Sunni Arab political leaders in Iraq who threatened to launch an uprising (intifada) against the new constitution. Bush said, “This talk about Sunnis rising up, I mean the Sunnis have got to make a choice. Do they want to live in a society that’s free, or do they want to live in violence?”
… Bush’s bluster is especially ironic since his administration’s missteps contributed mightily to the crisis. The United States pursued the policy, now almost universally acknowledged to have been disastrous, of dissolving the Iraqi army and banning former Baath members from government jobs, a policy that hurt middle-class Sunni Arabs badly and helped push them into supporting the guerrilla movement. The United States signed off on the United Nations plan to have a proportional election system, which ended up working to exclude the Sunni Arabs. (In a district-based system, Sunni Arabs would have been represented even in case of a low turnout.) Bush’s massive assault on Fallujah in November 2004, threw the entire Sunni Arab heartland into chaos – even previously quiet cities such as Mosul – and so embittered the Sunnis as to discourage their participation. In Bush’s rush to ally with the victors of the Jan. 30 elections, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Dawa Party, both Shiite fundamentalist groups, he gave them the impression of strong backing from Washington and made them less willing to compromise. After the disaster of the Jan. 30 election results, which left the Sunni Arabs with little representation in the government, the Bush administration did, to its credit, finally step in to push for proper Sunni Arab representation on the constitution-drafting committee. But by then it may have been too late.

Cole’s entire article is well worth reading, despite the damn movie ad you have to sit through to access it.

Posted by Stephen at 10:43 PM in War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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