Thursday, January 11, 2007

Both can't be wrong

"Victory," said president Bush from the White House Library last night, "will bring something new in the Arab world: a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties and answers to its people."

Whatever else you might say about Bush, there can be absolutely no doubt that he - and the bulk of the American people - are genuine in their desire to see democracy functioning in Iraq – and the rest of the Middle East, for that matter.

You really do have to wonder why it is, therefore, that such a noble objective should have the left-wing media – typified by our own Guardian - spitting with rage at the prospect the United States taking what might be decisive action against the terrorists who would see anarchy, misery and death.

But it really is quite staggering to read the invective pouring out. Headed, "Defiance and delusion", the Guardian leader tells us that, "George Bush's announcement last night that he is going to pour more troops into Iraq was the last throw of the dice in a misconceived enterprise that has dragged his country, this country and the Middle East into a nightmare."

The package, it helpfully tells us, includes 17,500 more combat troops for Baghdad and 4,000 more marines for Anbar province, the cockpit of the Sunni insurgency. Over $1bn will be spent in economic aid. In return the Iraqis are to promise to crackdown on insurgents, regardless of sect or religion.

The proximate reason for the newspaper's ire, of course, is that - in opting for a troop surge - Bush has "ignored the message of the mid-term elections" and the Guardian's Democrat (i.e., left-wing) chums. Bush, it screeches, "has also ignored the Iraq Study Group, Congress, his own top generals" and, horror of horrors, "most world opinion".

There you have it people. A US president, leader of the most prosperous and dynamic country in the world, a country which has achieved its status by driving its own agenda - is not listening to the opinion of the people who neither elected him nor pay US taxes. Now isn't that a bummer!

Needless to say, the Guardian has plenty of reasons to offer as to why the US initiative will fail. But, in the simplistic minds of this blog's authors, we tend to see the idea of sending more troops into Baghdad, alongside a newly invigorated and equipped Iraqi Army, as a somewhat better idea than sending half your troops home and pulling the rest back to cower in their bases, leaving the streets to the men of violence.

There, it seems, we have some common cause with the Guardian as it too regards as unrealistic Tony Blair’s plan to pull 3,500 troops out of Basra and hand the province over to the Iraqis. "The claim peace is returning to Basra is as unreal as Mr Bush's hope that order can be brought to Baghdad," says the paper.

But somehow, somewhere, in all the torrent of words and declamations, it would be really nice to see a coherent line. Either it is a good idea to put in more security forces, to seek to impose law and order, or it is a good idea to pull out and let the Iraqis handle their own affairs. Both ideas can't be right (not withstanding that the situation is different in Basra) and both can't be wrong especially as, from the likes of the left-wing Guardian, we seem to hear nothing but the counsels of despair.

Perhaps, though, Bush is on to them. In his speech, he cautioned that the new strategy would not bring an immediate end to violence, telling his people: "Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering." Stepping up to the plate, you can be assured, will be Associated Press, the New York Times, the BBC and, of course, the dear old Guardian.


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