As President Bush continues his Nixonesque policy of �exiting�
Iraq by escalation and intimidation, both Republican and Democratic politicians
are also imitating the Vietnam-era rhetoric of blaming the citizens of the
chaotic country and their neighbors for the mess. In fact, the politicians are
blaming everyone but themselves for this monumental policy failure.
As Nixon fingered Laos and Cambodia for acting as communist
havens for the destabilization of South Vietnam and expanded the U.S. war into
them, Bush is raising troop levels in Iraq and blaming Iran for Iraq�s
problems. The Bush administration tried to get away with accusing the Iranian
political leadership of providing armor-penetrating explosives to Shi�ite
militias in Iraq, but when Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
said he saw no evidence of such leadership involvement, the administration
Of course, if the Iranian leaders aren�t providing such
materials and training to Shi�ite militias in Iraq, one should wonder why not.
One might forgive even the despotic tyrants in Iran for being a little nervous.
Troops from the hostile government of the United States have invaded and occupied
countries on both sides of Iran -- Afghanistan and Iraq. If a hegemonic foreign
power had invaded Mexico, who would doubt that the United States would aid
Mexican resistance? Yet, contrary to the findings of the U.S. intelligence
community, the administration is now trying to foist the blame for the Iraqi
sectarian civil war on Iran.
The situation is so bad in Iraq that U.S. politicians of all
political stripes are looking for someone -- anyone else -- to blame. In the
debate in the U.S. House of Representatives on the congressional resolution
disapproving of President Bush�s escalation of the war, Republican Ric Keller,
who opposed the escalation, blamed the Iraqis for their troubles:
Imagine your next-door neighbor refuses to mow his lawn and
the weeds are all the way up to his waist, so you decide you�re going to mow
his lawn for him every single week. The neighbor never says thank you, he hates
you and sometimes he takes out a gun and shoots you. Under these circumstances,
do you keep mowing his lawn forever?
Do you send even more of your family members over to mow his
lawn? Or do you say to that neighbor, you better step it up and mow your own
lawn or there�s going to be serious consequences for you?
Although Mr. Keller�s opposition to the president�s
escalation should be praised, the arrogance implicit in this statement also
runs through similar statements by Democratic war opponents. Because they want
to get re-elected, politicians can�t �blame America� for the problems in Iraq
so they have to blame the Iraqis.
One should ask even Mr. Keller and many other escalation
opponents why a homeowner should be presumptuous enough to trespass on a
neighbor�s property to mow their lawn in the first place? Also, Mr. Keller
should realize that his analogy is imperfect. In fact, what the United States
did in Iraq was akin to running a car over the neighbor�s lawn mower (invading
the country, ruining Iraqi social cohesion, and then dismantling the Iraqi
security forces), then expecting him to mow his lawn, and blaming him when he
can�t. Finally, the Iraqis, like the neighbor, know that the threat of coming �consequences�
-- whether civil war or long grass -- is already a fact on the ground.
Hillary Clinton, however, would prefer to blame President
Bush entirely for the war and take no responsibility for her own vote in favor
of going to war. Her position to date has been a cop out: knowing what she
knows now about the absence of weapons of mass destruction, etc., she wouldn�t
have voted for the war. Instead of saying that her vote was a mistake -- a
colossal one given that the invasion would not have been justified even if
Saddam Hussein had had such weapons -- and apologizing, she is now saying that
if voters want to hear an apology, they can just go vote for someone else for
president. She doesn�t know it, but this stance is the kiss of death for her
presidential bid. She is trying to not be dragged too far to the left during
the Democratic primaries in an attempt to win the general election by retaining
But even after the utter repudiation of the war in the
election of November 2006, Republicans and Democrats have been slow to realize
that Bush�s post-election escalation will cause opposition to the conflict to
be a �tsunami� in 2008. After digging in her heels about the apology, Hillary
will not even be able to get the Democratic nomination. Anti-war Barack Obama,
or more likely, John Edwards -- who has apologized for his war vote -- will be
the Democratic nominee and the next president.
Because Bush�s escalation flies in the face of public
opinion -- in both the United States and Iraq -- he has sunk the chances of the
Republican Party in the 2008 election. All the major Republican candidates --
John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney -- have been forced to endorse the
escalation. Only the courageous Chuck Hagel has criticized the president�s
policy, but regrettably he will not survive the Republican primaries because of
Although the finger pointing will continue throughout the
2008 election campaign, ironically the Iraqis -- aggrieved but the butt of
blame for their plight -- will have had a powerful influence on who is the next
leader of the free world.
Eland is a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, Director of the
Institute�s Center on
Peace & Liberty, and author of the books The Empire
Has No Clothes, and Putting �Defense�
Back into U.S. Defense Policy.