If President Bush has competent advisors, he must know that his Iraqi war has become a liability for him and for the Republican Party and might easily become a catastrophe.
The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 45% of Americans doubt President Bush’s veracity compared to 41% who regard him as honest.
The poll also finds that a majority of Americans regard Iraq as a more important issue than the lack of jobs and that more Americans now disapprove of Bush’s performance than approve.
This is not good news for a president whose war is going badly. On June 27, General George Casey, US commander of the multinational coalition in Iraq, told morning TV audiences that the Iraq conflict “will not be settled on the battlefield.” The Iraq conflict, Gen. Casey said, “will ultimately be settled by negotiation.”
Instead of firing Gen. Casey, as he would have done in the past, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld backed him up. Rumsfeld also told TV audiences that “coalition forces are not going to repress the insurgency,” which might “go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years.”
That was not what Americans promised a 3-week war wanted to hear. Even inattentive Americans could discern that if the Bush administration could be so far wrong on the duration of the war, it could also be very wrong on the reasons for the war.
The poll showing the sharp drop in belief in Bush’s credibility was conducted during July 8-11 and released on July 13. The poll reflects the public’s new awareness of the interminable conflict. With about 15,000 American casualties (dead and wounded), the cost of the war is starting to come home.
The outcome of the invasion is far removed from the Bush administration’s promise of a cakewalk strewn with flowers. The war has also proven to be extremely expensive at a time when Americans are hearing that Social Security and Medicare are running out of money. Americans want to know why Bush is investing $300 billion in a training ground for al Qaeda when America’s elderly cannot pay their prescription bills.
On top of this comes the Karl Rove problem. Famous as Bush’s principal advisor, Rove has apparently been fingered as the administration official who committed the felony of leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent in retaliation for her husband exposing the neoconservative lie that Iraq had purchased nuclear material from Niger.
For Bush, the Rove problem brings back the issue of how we got ourselves at war in the first place.
The US military and the Republican establishment have done a good job of sticking by Bush even though they now understand that he misled them and put them at risk in a gratuitous war.
A retired general, Barry R. McCaffrey, recently told the House Armed Services Committee that “the Army and Marine Corps are at risk of experiencing a disaster during the coming three years. There is little reserve or surge capability to respond to new challenges.”
McCaffrey, in effect, told the Armed Services Committee that the civilians in the Pentagon were out to lunch. The civilians’ war-fighting strategy downplays the need for troops and relies on firepower and high-tech weapons.
General McCaffrey, currently a professor at West Point, told the Armed Services Committee that America simply lacks the troops to deal with Iraq. The general also said that even if the Pentagon could be weaned away from its high-tech fantasies, most recruitment goals are not being met. The US military is shrinking during war time.
The reason, of course, is that most Americans don’t any longer see the point of the war. We were all for war when we heard our vice president Cheney and national security advisor Condi Rice, now secretary of state, tell us that Iraq had a mushroom cloud in store for American cities. But when we found out that this was all drivel, we started wondering why John Jones’s son, an all-state quarterback, got his arms and legs blown off in Iraq.
The American people noticed when the CIA said that the US invasion of Iraq has turned that country into a training ground for terrorists and al Qaeda supporters. The last thing the US needs to be doing is subsidizing Osama bin Laden, and that is exactly what the Bush administration is doing in Iraq.
Hope for Bush and for America is at hand. US Representative Walter B. Jones, (R, NC) has introduced a resolution-the Homeward Bound Resolution-that requires President Bush “to announce, not later than December 31, 2005, a plan for the withdrawal of all United States Armed Forces from Iraq. ”
The Congressional Research Service has taken a close look at the Resolution and has advised that the Resolution is “advisory in nature rather than mandatory. It appears to leave a great deal of discretion with the President for setting a timetable for the withdrawal of troops.”
Walter B. Jones is a six-term member of the House Armed Services Committee. He is the member of Congress who required congressional dining rooms to rename French fries “freedom fries.” When patriots such as Jones realize that we have made a mistake, it is time for us all to realize it.
Many Americans are so incensed at Bush for fabricating the reasons for invading Iraq that they think they prefer for his ill-fated war adventure to continue until it produces enough rope to hang him and his administration.
I understand their anger at being deceived over life and death matters. However, the longer this war continues, the more Americans there will be without arms, legs, eyes, and lives; the more terrorists will spring from Iraqi deaths; the more threatened Israel will become; and the stronger bin Laden and his successors will be in the Middle East.
In my opinion Bush deserves to be impeached. However, the goal is to stop the carnage that is turning the US into a pariah and placing our economic future into the hands of our Asian bankers.
Who wants another American soldier killed or maimed for nothing other than a neoconservative agenda based on lies, ignorance and hubris?
Walter B. Jones is an American hero. He has provided cover for President Bush to comply with the will of Congress and withdraw from Iraq. Every American of good will should support the Homeward Bound Resolution. Let history deal with George W. Bush and his war.
The Homeward Bound Resolution and its supporters will be America’s redemption.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS has held a number of academic appointments and has contributed to numerous scholarly publications. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. His graduate economics education was at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org