Wolfowitz's second visit to Iraq was supposed to underscore
news" about the U.S. occupation – how the Americans are
building schools, roads, and credibility with the Iraqi people.
Instead, it turned into an object lesson
in how the country is on the verge of careening
out of control.
happened at a little after 6 a.m., Monday morning, as
Wolfie was getting ready for his first meeting of the day:
barrage of rockets hit the Rashid Hotel, home to the media
and assorted bigwigs, scoring a direct hit just beneath his
room. The building shuddered with an explosion that shook
the occupation to its very foundations.
that the Wolf was the target of the assault, but a series
of well-coordinated and deadly bombings following the Hotel
Rashid attack showed that the burgeoning Iraqi resistance
is certainly capable of launching such an operation. The next
day, inside of 45 minutes, car bombings ripped through Red
Cross HQ and three police stations in Baghdad, 40 people were
killed and over 200 wounded. This assault marks the beginning
of what promises to be a protracted guerrilla war.
the firing will be more precise and efficient (next time),"
averred Walid Jumblatt, the leader
of Lebanon's Druze community, "so we get rid of
this microbe and people like him in
Washington who are spreading
disorder in Arab lands, Iraq and Palestine."
Jumblatt's sentiments are no doubt representative of a growing
number in the region, I'm afraid I can't agree. We need to
keep the Wolf around for the official inquiry into how and
why he and his neoconservative confreres
bamboozled us into war. Wolfowitz deserves to be disgraced,
and his policy defeated a fate far worse than death for
a man in his position.
of Wolfowitz and the War Party will be their
undoing: this was almost literally true in Wolfowitz's
was the Wolf, you'll remember, who took
a bite out of General Eric Shinseki, when the outgoing
Army chief of staff testified before Congress that the occupation
would require "several
hundred thousand" U.S. troops. Pressed for a specific
number, Shinseki estimated 200,000.
The Wolf pounced on this as "wildly
off the mark," and Rumsfeld agreed.
But who's "wildly off the mark" now?
are currently close to 145,000
U.S. troops in Iraq, not counting tens of thousands more in
the general vicinity – a number the Congressional Budget Office
says can't be maintained.
As the events of the past few days have made all too clear,
it isn't enough to secure the glorious "victory"
declared by our President some months ago. Heck, it's not
even enough to ensure the physical safety of top U.S. government
officials when they come to survey the "progress" of their
is putting up a brave front,
blithely shrugging off his own scrape with mortality and echoing
fatuous remark that this just shows how "desperate" the
resistance is because of our alleged "success" in Iraq, which
the media is supposedly
refusing to publicize. But the [UK] Independent's
Patrick Cockburn captured the
pathetic reality is his report filed from Baghdad:
shaken-looking Mr Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the
invasion, was forced to scurry from the hotel, followed by
other US officials in pyjamas and underpants.
interviewed in Baghdad yesterday had very different ideas
from Mr Bush. All, without exception, approved of the attacks
on the hotel and US soldiers, but not the suicide bombings
because Iraqis were the victims."
outburst was in somewhat questionable taste, but it is valid
to ask: what was Wolfowitz doing in Iraq to begin with? Middle
East scholar Juan
Cole raises the important point that the deputy defense
secretary's two visits to Iraq were exercises
in pure triumphalism:
problem with Wolfowitz's trips to Iraq is that they are clearly
political, requiring visits to touchy places such as Najaf
and Tikrit, to make political points about US dominance of
the country. But the Deputy Secretary of Defense should only
be visiting Iraq for military reasons, and his visits should
be conducted secretly so he can see military commanders and
troops. If Wolfowitz goes on campaigning to be mayor of Tikrit,
he is liable to get himself killed."
of American global hegemony, in gleefully announcing that
he would be "sleeping in Tikrit," was clearly rubbing it in
the defeated Iraqis' faces. This kind of arrogance inevitably
provokes a violent reaction – and it isn't just Wolfowitz
in the line of fire. The number
and lethality of daily attacks on the occupation forces
has been steadily rising. The Ramadan offensive
brings the evolving conflict to a whole new level. The battle
of Baghdad is not over.
that one of the nation's leading chickenhawks – a civilian
warmonger who never served a day in the military – has actually
experienced combat, albeit involuntarily and to a limited
degree, can we hope that this experience will make him think
twice about the reckless course he has set?
Wolf and his fellow neocons are predators, preying on the
small and relatively weak nations of the Middle East, and
they smell blood. The war-maddened clique that
has seized control of American foreign policy won't give up
without a fight – so let's give them one.
neocons have not just been wrong about everything. They lied
about everything: weapons of mass destruction,
Saddam's purported links to al-Qaeda,
the postwar joy of the
Iraqi people at having been "liberated," and the number of
troops required to restore order. They said it would be a
not a "long,
hard slog." They agitated for this war for years,
and when it finally came it was their dream come true.
it is our living nightmare.
IN THE MARGIN
Marshall teases his readers with a hint of a major break
in the Niger uranium forgery
me touch gingerly on this topic: the forged Niger documents.
Who forged them? And why? It's one of the most intriguing
and possibly one of most important questions surrounding the
whole manipulated Iraq intelligence story. And yet it also
seems to have generated the least curiosity. I've picked up
a few clues that tell me that could change awfully quickly.
And in a pretty dramatic fashion."
is right about this being important, but one can only wonder
why he is being so coy. If it's that important, then his readers
have a right to know – especially since, as he implies, it'll
all come out in the wash anyway. He promises more news to
come, so keep checking his TalkingPointsMemo.com, always a
good read in any event.
a pretty dramatic fashion," eh? The phrase sets my pulse to
racing. This may not mean that Scooter Libby is
about to be arrested and frog-marched out
of the Executive
Office Building, but it could get that exciting.
column, I mistakenly wrote that the Israelis sunk the
U.S.S. Liberty: in reality, although they tried like
hell and also tried to kill the survivors by strafing the
lifeboats they didn't succeed in sinking her.
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