Following the devastating bombing of the United Nations office in Baghdad, talk is increasingly turning to the failure of the Bush administration’s unilateralist Iraq policies and its “war on terrorism.”
’s cover this week asked, “So what’s Plan B?” with a subhead adding, “Washington’s Plan A in Iraq isn’t working.” The article, by international editor and prominent establishment foreign policy analyst Fareed Zakaria, offers a stark listing of the failures of the U.S. occupation, calling it an “enterprise undertaken with little planning and extreme arrogance.” Says Zakaria, “It is time to recognize that the occupation of Iraq needs fixing.” CNN featured a similar critique, titled “Lessons from the rubble.”
A new Newsweek poll finds Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the U.S. role in Iraq, saying the U.S. should reduce its involvement there. And, for the first time since the question was initially asked last fall, more registered voters said they would not like to see Bush re-elected than those who favored his re-election (49 versus 44 percent).
The number of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq since May 1, when President Bush declared the end of major combat, has now surpassed the number of U.S. deaths in the “active” war, which began on March 19.
Approximately 285 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the war started. Around 150 have died since May 1, according to Pentagon spokespersons.
“The repetition of deaths every couple of days is starting to hit home,” Republican consultant Scott Reed told reporters.
“For President Bush, suddenly every option in Iraq looks bad,” was the lead of political analyst Ronald Brownstein’s Aug. 25 Washington Outlook column. The headline read, “No path in Iraq is risk-free for [the U.S.] mission or Bush’s presidency.”
After the bombing of the UN office, the Bush administration met strong resistance at the UN to its efforts to push through a new Security Council resolution to get other countries to send troops under U.S. control. This week, administration officials said they may not seek such a resolution after all. “We have not yet made a determination,” Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Monday.
William Luers, president of the United Nations Association of the USA and a former U.S. diplomat, told Inter-Press Service, “I do not see how other large nations will agree to participate until there is a transfer of complete authority away from the United States and to a combination of Iraqis and the United Nations to give legitimacy to the process.”
An Arab diplomat told IPS, “We don’t want to send our troops to be under the protection of a U.S. military umbrella.” Japan and Thailand said last week they would probably cancel plans to send troops.
Philip Gordon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writing in the Aug. 20, said the Bush administration’s refusal to allow the UN any real authority and its failure to win international support is “a mistake that will cost the United States in dollars, lives and reputation.”
In the wake of the attack on the UN headquarters in Iraq, the U.S. is facing increasing pressure to improve security quickly. Under the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. as the acknowledged occupying power, is responsible for ensuring the safety of the occupied population and humanitarian workers.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is cutting back its work in Iraq, saying it is concerned that the U.S. cannot ensure its security. Another humanitarian organization, Oxfam, has also withdrawn all international staff from Iraq because of the poor security situation. Even the British Embassy in Baghdad was evacuated because of the threat of an attack.
In the international community and among progressive and peace activists discussion is increasingly directed toward finding a realistic solution to the crisis precipitated by the U.S. war and occupation.
There is general agreement that an interim international authority has to replace the U.S. occupation, and control must be handed over to the Iraqi people.
“There is no easy answer,” Middle East Research and Information Project executive director Chris Toensing told the . The UN role is complicated by the fact that some Iraqis associate it with the decade of punitive sanctions imposed at the insistence of the U.S.,” he said.
Peace Action executive director Kevin Martin told the it is not sufficient to simply say, “Bring the troops home now.” The U.S. must withdraw and be replaced by a regional or international peacekeeping entity, he said.
Events are confirming daily that the U.S. war was “outrageous, illegal, immoral,” Martin said. “We need a new foreign policy, in a new direction.”
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