It was not easy for President Bush to manipulate matters to get the United States involved in a war in Iraq. But, he did it — although it cost him his credibility with many Americans. But now he faces a tougher task: getting out of Iraq.
Officially, the war ended May 1. But now it appears that the real war started on the day our president declared the war ended.
This is not the first time that the Iraqis have outwitted their conquerors. After World War I, the British occupied Iraq. The legendary Lawrence of Arabia declared in 1920 that the British had been led “into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor.” He concluded: “We are today not far from a disaster.”
History repeats itself. We — the United States — are now in the same position as the British Empire was 83 years ago. The day the war was declared over, the real war started, and each day it escalates. Fanatical Muslims the Islamic world over now have a convenient target. We are in Iraq, making it easy for any zealous Muslim to take a shot at the “white Satan.”
Those in charge of the American operation are talking about creating a friendly Iraqi army some four years from now. Meanwhile, the cost to the U.S. Treasury runs into the multibillions each month, and the body count of American soldiers lost continues to climb.
The big question now is how to get out — with dignity and honor. The United Nations has offered to help. This offer is a heaven-sent opportunity for Bush to get out of Iraq with dignity and honor. Step by step, the United States can withdraw troops as the U.N. enlarges its presence. Ultimately, this international body could cope with this international problem. As a side benefit, the United States once more renews its ties with the U.N. and its multinational constituents. In many ways, the U.N. offer may be seen as a heaven-sent gift to our president.
But, alas, the president has made it clear that he will not share the running of Iraq with the U.N. One wonders why.
Could it be that if the U.N. plays an active role in the reconstruction of Iraq it will propose that contracts on the reconstruction of Iraq not be awarded to American corporations without competitive bidding?
Could it possibly be that the president is more interested in limiting the reconstruction of Iraq to firms whose principals supply him with billions for election campaigns than he is in finding a way to get out of the Iraqi morass?
The official line of the White House is that it does not need the U.N. because we can enlist the support of many nations in supplying the manpower needed to do the job in Iraq. No doubt there are such countries somewhere. But they are surely not countries that will quarrel with Bush about the award of contracts or anything else. They will, unlike the U.N., be a rubber stamp.
But whatever happens, Bush will be entrapped in a trap of his own making, a case of Bush ambushing Bush.