Friday, June 16, 2006

Bush can't hide debacle in Iraq

Once again, the White House, with the help of the powerful U.S. mass media, has created a “reality” television show designed to turn the reality in Iraq upside down. According to the show’s script, the war is going so well, and “democracy” is now so firmly implanted in Iraq, that the U.S. occupiers are going to turn over authority to an Iraqi government chosen in free and fair elections, etc. march denouncing the visit of George Bush in Baghdad, June 14. "

There was George W. Bush, sitting side by side with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on June 13 in the middle of Baghdad’s somewhat secure Green Zone, telling him that Washington was now ready to put the fate of Iraq “in your hands.” Later, the outwardly upbeat commander-in-chief was shown praising and god-blessing a roomful of U.S. troops who cheered the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The official line—dutifully elaborated by all the networks and front-page news editors—was that Bush’s trip to Baghdad was a clever coup, since the story had been put out earlier that he was at Camp David in the Maryland mountains with his top policy makers for a teleconferenced meeting with the new Iraqi cabinet in Baghdad. Photos to prove it had been distributed to the media. They showed Bush and his colleagues around a large table, ready to start the dialog in cyberspace.

Instead, just in time to dominate the day’s airwaves, he turned up in Iraq, where none of the Iraqis knew he was coming until five minutes before his arrival, not even the new prime minister. As with the emperor’s new clothes, it doesn’t take much smarts to see through all this. If some portion of the U.S. population believes the line, enough to give Bush an uptick in his dismal poll numbers, it is only because questioning by the media wasn’t allowed on prime time but was reserved for the talking heads.

The fact is that Bush’s visit completely negated the claim that Iraq has any kind of sovereign government. Obviously, the U.S. completely controls Iraq’s airspace, Baghdad’s Green Zone, the schedules of its “leaders” and whatever security arrangements exist. Otherwise, how could an unexpected guest with the vast entourage U.S. presidents now take for granted sneak into the country without any of its top officials knowing a thing about it?

The whole trip was an embarrassment for the new Iraqi “government.” After months of internal struggle, Maliki had finally rammed through his appointments for the key cabinet posts of ministers of security, defense and national security. They presumably have authority over the exercise of state power in Iraq. Except they don’t, as Bush’s visit showed. The U.S. calls the shots and tells them what to do.

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