Here's how well the "surge" strategy is going. From the New York Times :
BAGHDAD, March 28 — One of the bloodiest chapters in Iraq’s sectarian strife unfolded over the past two days in the northern city of Tal Afar where gunmen, some of them apparently police officers, participated in the revenge killings of scores of Sunnis in the aftermath of a huge double suicide bombing in a Shiite area.
Two hours after the explosion of truck bombs, which killed 83 people and wounded more than 185, the gunmen — some of whom witnesses recognized as police officers — went house to house in a Sunni neighborhood, dragged people into the street and shot them in the head, witnesses and local leaders said.
Tal Afar was once regarded as one of the few success stories of the American occupation.
More Corners Turned
The diplomatic piece of the "surge" is going great guns too. At the opening of an Arab League summit, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, our biggest, bestest buddy in the Middle East, condemned the U.S. occupation of Iraq. “In our dear Iraq, the blood is spilling between our brothers in light of an illegitimate foreign occupation,” he said.
Ain't that a kick in the head?
Saudi Abdullah also touched on the situations in Sudan, Lebanon and Palestine, and called on Arab states to increase their unity. It sounds to me like Abdullah is sending a clear message to the Bush administration: you've screwed up our whole part of the world. Take your cowboy hat and ride out of town. Sooner is better than later.
Arab leaders are queasy about America's naval buildup in the Persian Gulf aimed at intimidating Iran. It's not that they love Iran. They just don't want another war in their sphere of influence.
It's not just the Arabs who are looking to distance themselves from the U.S. Even our British bulldog is lifting its leg on us. The Brits have asked us in so many words to stay the hell out of the Shatt al-Arab waterway incident in which Iran grabbed 15 British sailors and marines.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
Thursday morning, the Senate passed a $122 billion war funding bill that requires Bush to begin to withdraw troops within 120 days and sets a non-binding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008. I'm guessing it will take weeks to resolve this bill with the House bill, but it looks like some sort of bill containing timelines for withdrawal will make it to Mr. Bush's desk.
Mr. Bush threatens to veto any bill that contains timelines, which means he'll veto his own war budget request. Then, of course, he'll blame Congress for not supporting the troops. What happens next is anybody's guess.
Mr. Bush has an uncanny knack for painting himself in a corner. Until recently, his supporters in politics and the media have always managed to pry him out of his jams. He may be running out of juice.
The U.S. Attorney firing affair is heating up, and might handcuff (virtually if not literally) a number of his chief advisers, most notably Karl Rove and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. My guess is that Attorney-gate is just the first in a series of devastating investigations the new Congress will slap on the administration.
If Mr. Bush finds himself in a corner he can't squirm out of, what might he do?
Another Fine Mess
In a worst-case scenario for Bush, congressional investigations could dig up enough dirt to justify impeachment proceedings against both him and Dick Cheney. Between the two of them, they have as many skeletons in their closets as they have bats in their belfries. I've been skeptical that an impeachment scenario could come to pass, but lately…
Last week, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said on the House floor that "impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran." That might well be true, and I like Dennis Kucinich but he isn't exactly the King of Clout in Washington.
But when Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) starts hinting around at the "I" word, one tends to sit up and listen.
Any president who says, I don’t care, or I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else, or I don’t care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed--if a president really believes that, then there are--what I was pointing out, there are ways to deal with that.
Given young Mr. Bush's psychological profile, it seems that if he senses he's in an "inescapable" corner, he's more likely to act out than to compromise, and the most dramatic act he could commit would be a flimsily justified attack on Iran.
And he might just use the Iranian's hijacking of 15 British sailors and marines as the "next Pearl Harbor" he needs to launch another lunatic war.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.