Wednesday, September 15, 2004
"W" Is For Woeful
- "Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq." - George W. Bush
This statement had been a staple of the president's stump speech for some time, however, a search of his campaign speeches indicates that it has disappeared in recent weeks. In fact, he hasn't made that comment since August 10 at a rally in Pensacola, Florida. Maybe he knows something we don't. Or maybe he's just coming to terms with reality.
Clearly, the situation in Iraq is deteriorating quickly. Over the last four days alone, the number of Iraqi's killed by insurgents is estimated at over 200. There have been 44 American soldiers killed already in the month of September and when you compare that to the 66 that were killed in the entire month of August it's obvious that we aren't headed in the right direction. Even the White House appears to believe that we are in trouble as they are now seeking to shift $3.46 billion from reconstruction projects to security issues. Even Republicans are admiting that this is a sign of trouble.
- Mr. [Chuck] Hagel [R - Neb] said the State Department request was "a clear acknowledgment that we are not holding ourselves hostage to some grand illusion that we're winning."
Mr. Hagel went on to say that the request for reprogramming the money "does not add up, in my opinion, to a pretty picture, to a picture that shows that we're winning. But it does add up to this, an acknowledgment that we are in deep trouble."
Mr. [Richard] Lugar [R- Ind] made it clear that he supports the administration's request. But the expressions of concern by two leading Republicans could cause discomfort in the White House. Mr. Lugar expressed concern that of the roughly $18 billion approved for Iraq about 10 months ago, just over $1 billion had been dispersed as of a few days ago.
"If the shift of these funds slows down reconstruction, security may suffer in the long run," Mr. Lugar said, adding that security and reconstruction ought to be achieved "simultaneously."
The BBC calls it desperate.
- It is a telling indication of the problems in Iraq that the US State Department wants to switch money earmarked for water, sewage and electricity improvements to the training of Iraqi security forces.
Attention is switching from long-term infrastructure to the immediate needs of security and stability.
Prompted by the US ambassador in Baghdad John Negroponte, the idea is to use $3.6 billion of the $18 billion approved by Congress last November to, among other things, train more Iraqi police and other forces, create more job programmes in an effort to reduce unemployment and plan for the elections in January.
Of the $18 billion only about $1 billion has been spent so far, partly because reconstruction has been so difficult given the lack of security for contractors.
The move comes as questions are being increasingly asked in Washington about whether Iraq can ever be put right.
And to add insult to injury, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan claims that the war was illegal.
- "I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time - without UN approval and much broader support from the international community."
"From our point of view and the [UN] charter point of view it was illegal," he added.
Mr Annan said the UN would give advice and assistance in the run-up to the elections, but it was up to the Iraqi interim government to decide whether such a vote should go ahead.
He warned there could not be "credible elections if the security conditions continue as they are now."
According to a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Iraq war has reached a critical point. The study, conducted between June 2003 and July 2004, examined Iraqi reaction to five statements that were used to measure progress. The five statements are:
- I feel secure in my home and in my daily activities.
- I have a say in how Iraq is run.
- I have a means of income.
- I have access to basic services, such as power, water and sanitation.
- My family and I have access to health care and education.
The reactions could be summed up as follows:
- Security - Iraqis have little confidence in U.S. and other international forces.
- Governance and Participation - Iraqis are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the January elections but otherwise remain starkly pessimistic about governance and participation issues. Most are willing to give their government a chance, although they continue to question its credibility. Corruption is rampant, and there are worrisome trends in terms of protection of women’s and minority rights and religious
- Economic Opportunity - Unemployment continues to overshadow the U.S.-driven macroeconomic reform efforts and salary increases for Iraq’s civil servants. Iraqis currently have a negative view of job availability, and those who choose to work for foreign companies or in Iraq’s security forces face serious security risks.
- Services - Iraqis remain unhappy with the level of Services they are receiving. The lack of sufficient electricity in major cities continues to undermine public
confidence, fueling worrisome discontent in cities like Falluja and Mosul, which were favored under Saddam and now receive considerably less power than in prewar days. Sewage systems are worse than they were under Saddam, causing spillover health and environmental problems.
- Social Well-Being - There was an initial boost in the education sector with thousands of schools rebuilt and children returning to school, but this has been countered in recent months by Iraqi frustration at the lack of longer-term, sustainable efforts in the education sector. There are signs that Iraqi children continue to drop out of school at high rates in order to work and help supplement the family income. The health care sector has suffered due to Iraq’s security problems and inadequate basic services. Militias’ roadblocks and highway banditry hinder access to and supplies for medical care, and the lack of a functioning sewage system has led to an increase in water-borne diseases.
But to hear the administration tell it, we are making progress. After all, the liberal media only shows the negatives.
Putting all of these thisngs together, one thing becomes painfully obvious: George W. Bush is a woeful president. He has led us into a failed war and by blindly sticking to a failed policy he has failed to effectively lead us in a time when our safety is at risk. If you value your safety and believe that leadership is an important quality in a president, you must vote George W. Bush out of office in November.