There are those who argue that the US government is actually intentionally provoking the continuing violence in Iraq in order to provide a pretext for their continued presence there. I'm unconvinced.
For a start, the daily death toll from Iraq is having an enormously damaging effect on Republicans in the domestic political arena. Every day the violence continues is another bad day for Bush and his party.
Perhaps more significantly, it's just a tactical nonsense. There's no doubt that the US government wants to permanently station troops in Iraq in order to project power in the region. The Republicans only last week, during the horsetrading over the latest Iraq funding bill, very pointedly attempted to remove a Democrat amendment which would have prohibited funds being used to "establish permanent United States military bases in Iraq, or to exercise United States control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq". It seems that they have succeeded in stripping out such limitations in the final bill.
And, when the Telegraph writes the headline "US 'planning to keep 50,000 troops in Iraq for many years'" I probably don't need to say more. So, I agree that this US government wants permanant military bases in Iraq.
But what would be the point of having the troops there if all they can do is what they're doing now? There's no strategic advantage to be gained by having their own troops tied down in Iraq as they are. They're hardly in a position to project power in a useful way.
And the reputation of the US military, unable to defeat a few thousand guys (their figures) with AK-47's and improvised explosive devices, is taking a beating too.
So, I just don't see it.
But when Bush decides to inflict yet another gunshot to the bloodied corpse that he once called "Mission Accomplished", it almost makes me think again. Is it conceivable that he's unaware of the provocative and unhelpful nature of this visit?
He gave the sovereign Prime Minister of Iraq five minutes notice of the fact that he'd been granted a brief audience with his master. Whether Maliki had to kiss the great one's feet has not been reported. Five minutes?
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it means to me...
The insurgents (some of them anyway) make the claim that the new Iraqi government is a powerless US puppet and that this justifies their continued "resistance" and attacks on "collaborators". The support they receive from the wider communities in which they operate depends to some extent on the credibility of this claim.
So what on earth is Bush doing there making Maliki look like his stooge? Is he being intentionally provocative?
No, I think not. There is an explanation and it isn't intentional sabotage. It appears that George W. Bush genuinely believes his own rhetoric and actually does think only in black and white. In Bush's world, he is the undisputed good guy and anyone who wasn't grateful for this visit is an undisputed bad guy. And Bush doesn't care what the bad guys think. The bad guys are evil, unable to understand rational argument, beyond saving, deranged. He wants them to stop thinking. He wants them dead.
He's not trying to stir up further violence. He just doesn't actually understand the real world. I'm not sure if that's better or worse.
That aside, it's clear that the President doesn't exactly trust the new Iraqi PM with his own security despite the fact that Bush is already the most heavily protected individual in history (no link, but you know it's true). He trusts him to provide security for millions of Iraqis but when it comes to the important stuff, well, that's different.
And what of the new Iraqi Prime Minister? How did he react to this visit? Well, it's going in the next post because it's rather significant.
Tags: News, Politics, Iraq, President Bush