Handing Over the Reins

By Gus Tyler

Published April 23, 2004, issue of April 23, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

On April 12, in one of his rare press conferences, President Bush laid out a road map on America’s approach to Iraq’s future. Just two days later, he agreed to change — really reverse — the route. What happened?

Much of Bush’s opening statement at the press conference consisted of what was once famously labeled “glittering generalities.” Repeatedly, Bush enunciated noble purposes without concrete details on the whats, whens, hows and whos, But there was one great exception. On June 30, the U.S. would turn over the government of Iraq to the Iraqis. Bush explained why. “We’re not,” Bush said, “an imperial power.”

Yet when he then laid out further details of this turnover of power to the Iraqis, critics publicly wondered just how free of American control Iraq would be. According to the plan, come July 1, the Iraqi Governing Council — a handpicked body pasted together by the U.S. — will be in control. Whatever its merits or demerits, it was not elected by the Iraqi people. Bush did, however, announce that “Iraqis will then elect a permanent government by December 15, 2005.”

The obvious question is, how and why — if the Iraq Governing Council is in control — can we assume that it will hold such a popular election on December 15, 2005? The answer: If the council wants to go its own sweet way, we will remind it that our army is there to make certain that our puppet dances to our tune. Yes, our troops will still be there. As Bush put it: “Our commitment to the success and security of Iraq will not end on June 30. On July 1, and beyond, our reconstruction assistance will continue and our military commitment will continue.”

In short, the Bush formula is the continuation of old-fashioned imperialism under the new-fashioned use of a “client state,” to serve as a puppet. During World War II, both Hitler and Stalin ran many subjugated countries through puppets. And while Bush is certainly not a Hitler or a Stalin, this use of a puppet to conceal a subtle “imperialism” looks to many like putting a wolf in lamb’s clothing.

To legitimize its plot in Iraq, the U.S. has on several occasions asked the United Nations to send in troops to work with the Americans. The U.N. has refused. But, in this moment of Bush’s embarrassment, the U.N. has come to the rescue. It announces that it is now ready to play a role in Iraq — on its own terms, terms defined by Lakhdar Brahimi, special envoy of the U.N. in Iraq. He calls for the dissolution of the Iraqi Governing Council and its replacement by a council named by the U.N after consultation with the U.S. and with key Iraqis. Put plainly, the U.N. would be replacing the United States as the decision-maker in Iraq.

On the following morning, the New York Times reported the response of the White House. “The Bush administration accepted on Thursday the outlines of a United Nations proposal to dissolve the Iraqi Governing Council installed last year by the United States and replace it with a caretaker government when Iraqi sovereignty is restored on July 1.”

This seemingly smooth transition from control by the U.S. to control by the U.N. will undoubtedly run into difficulties. Who will be awarding contracts to whom in the “reconstruction” of Iraq? What will be the role of the U.S. military forces? Time will tell.

But what this incident has already told us is that Bush’s unilateral foreign policy has been a mega-mistake, one that the U.N. is probably pleased to prove.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.