What do you do when your incompetence leads to failure? You blame others.
What do you do when a recession occurs on your watch? You blame the Clinton Administration. What do you do when your economic policies cause massive job losses? You blame the Clinton Administration. What do you do when a massive surplus leads to a massive deficit? You blame the Clinton Administration. What do you do when you ignore warnings about terrorist attacks on the homeland? You blame the CIA. What do you do when Bin Laden attacks the United States? You blame the Clinton Administration. What do you do when you are caught fiddling while New Orleans drowns? You blame the local government. What do you do when North Korea tests nukes? You blame the Clinton Administration.
What do you do when you fail to provide basic security after destroying a country? You blame the Iraqis.
Faced with chaos in Iraq, Mr. Bush has said that he will not change his strategy in Iraq, although he might change his tactics:
Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said that while Bush might change tactics, he would not change his overall strategy.
"He’s not somebody who gets jumpy at polls," Snow said of Bush.
Bush, at a political fundraiser in Washington for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, railed against Democrats who criticize the war. Calling the Democrats the party of "cut and run," Bush said voters need to ask: "Which political party has a strategy for victory in this war on terror?’ "
I am a voter and I am asking myself what exactly Mr. Bush’s strategy is in Iraq. As far as I can tell, his strategy from the start of this fiasco has been, "Blame others."
Blaming the Iraqis is something of a parlor game in Washington. It has been a constant theme in Mr. Bush’s attempts to hide his own incompetence from the rest of us. This week, the "blame the Iraqis" strategy became the backbone of an emerging exit strategy in Iraq. The New York Times is reporting this morning that the administration is drafting a timetable for Iraq and will lay down a set of benchmarks that the Iraqi government will have to meet to quell the violence:
The Bush administration is drafting a timetable for the Iraqi government to address sectarian divisions and assume a larger role in securing the country, senior American officials said.
Details of the blueprint, which is to be presented to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki before the end of the year and would be carried out over the next year and beyond, are still being devised. But the officials said that for the first time Iraq was likely to be asked to agree to a schedule of specific milestones, like disarming sectarian militias, and to a broad set of other political, economic and military benchmarks intended to stabilize the country.
Although the plan would not threaten Mr. Maliki with a withdrawal of American troops, several officials said the Bush administration would consider changes in military strategy and other penalties if Iraq balked at adopting it or failed to meet critical benchmarks within it.
A senior Pentagon official involved in drafting the blueprint said Iraqi officials were being consulted as the plan evolved and would be invited to sign off on the milestones before the end of the year. But he added, “If the Iraqis fail to come back to us on this, we would have to conduct a reassessment” of the American strategy in Iraq.
Let me be the first to make this rather obvious prediction: The Iraqi government will not be able to meet the benchmarks to stabilize the country.
Already administration gophers like Mr. Rumsfeld have been telling us that the Iraqis are the ones responsible for providing their own security:
Mr. Rumsfeld alluded to discussions about benchmarks on Friday at a Pentagon news conference, noting that Mr. Khalilzad and General Casey “are currently working with the Iraqi government to develop a set of projections as to when they think they can pass off various pieces of responsibility.”
He emphasized the urgency of transferring more security and governing responsibilities to the Iraqis. “It’s their country,” he said. “They’re going to have to govern it, they’re going to have to provide security for it, and they’re going to have to do it sooner rather than later.”
Yes, it is their country. However, we are the ones that invaded and occupied their country. It is quite clear under international law who is responsible for the security of Iraq. According to the Law of Occupation it is the duty of the United States, as the occupying power, to provide security in Iraq. The Law of Occupation is codified by the Hague Regulations, the Fourth Geneva Conventions, and the U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare. Article 43 of the Hague Regulations state:
The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.
While it may be politically convenient for the Bush Administration to blame the Iraqis for the worsening situation in Iraq, it is the failure of the Bush Administration to provide any semblance of basic security to the occupied country of Iraq that is the primary culprit. Instead of providing security, we were given lighthearted quips when the whole world saw the chaos in Iraq immediate after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003.
Declaring that freedom is "untidy," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday the looting in Iraq was a result of "pent-up feelings" of oppression and that it would subside as Iraqis adjusted to life without Saddam Hussein.
He also asserted the looting was not as bad as some television and newspaper reports have indicated and said there was no major crisis in Baghdad, the capital city, which lacks a central governing authority. The looting, he suggested, was "part of the price" for what the United States and Britain have called the liberation of Iraq.
"Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," Rumsfeld said. "They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that’s what’s going to happen here."
Looting, he added, was not uncommon for countries that experience significant social upheaval. "Stuff happens," Rumsfeld said.
Stuff happened because Mr. Bush’s ideology only could envision people throwing flowers at our feet.
The Bush administration was ill-prepared for post-war Iraq. They compounded the problem by handing over Iraq to the Iranian-backed SCIRI and the Iranian nurtured al Dawa party. How dense do you have to be to not understand that the platform of a political party named "The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq" might not exactly be in line with the western liberal democracy the neo-con fantasy envisioned? Is it really a surprise that Shia death squads are roaming the country, wearing police uniforms, and massacring Sunnis, and is it really a surprise that Sunni suicide bombers are targeting the Shia?
Is it really a surprise that Mr. Maliki, a hard-line al Dawa leader with a dubious past, would not want to crack down on the militias that are his pillar of support? After all, it was Mr. Maliki’s own party that invented the modern car bombing, that has killed Americans in Kuwait and in Lebanon, and that has now been given control of a country by the historically challenged George W Bush.
So, as we watch George W Bush cut and run from Iraq, we must not forget that we are at this unfortunate situation because of Mr. Bush’s ill-conceived and ill-executed invasion and occupation of Iraq. Mr. Bush can point fingers anywhere and everywhere he chooses, but he only need look in the mirror to find the man responsible for this fiasco.