Mission Accomplished? Iraq Won't Turn Around Unless The Bush Administration Stops The Spin, And Starts Recognizing The Reality On The Ground
The spin from the Bush Administration about Iraq is that Americans shouldn't pay attention to the violence they see on their televisions (read: blame the "liberal" media), because the fledgling Iraqi democracy was about to turn the corner.
"The situation in Iraq is still tense, and we're still seeing acts of sectarian violence and reprisal," Bush said in a March speech. "Yet out of this crisis, we've also seen signs of a hopeful future."
Even as the Iraq Study Group report makes recommendations on what to do next in Iraq, the U.S. needs the Bush Administraton to take an important first step.
Stop trying to spin us. It isn't working. And continuing to not accept the situation on the ground can only make matters worse.
As Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said recently: "Hope is not a strategy."
This has nothing to do with exit strateiges. It's catch-phrase partisan politics to turn every conversation into whether the Democrats want to "cut and run," or whether the Republicans have a better understanding of whether U.S. troops begin redeploying now, a year from now, or three years from now. The American people made it clear at the polls this month: they aren't buying the spin anymore.
What's most important is the administration recognizing, understanding, and admitting that there is a steady and possibly unending drumbeat of death and destruction in Iraq, and that Iraq's Shiites and Sunnis are engaged in Civil War. It has to do with the realization and admission that without rapid change, the vacuum of leadership that is being created by the U.S.-led coalition will push the Iraqis to turn to the all too willing arms of Iran.
Still believe the spin that there's a "hopeful future" in Iraq if we "stay the course"? Here are some recent items from the news.
-- Thousands of Iraqis are believed to have died from shortages of medicine, vital equipment and qualified doctors, despite an infusion of nearly half a billion dollars from U.S. coffers into this country's healthcare system, Iraqi officials and American observers say.
-- Exacerbating the crisis, hundreds of doctors have been killed, and thousands have fled Iraq. The child mortality rate, a key indicator of a nation's health, has worsened since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to Iraqi government figures.
-- More than 250 academics have been killed since 2003, targeted by so many warring factions that it seems to be the only issue they can agree on. To date, not one person has been arrested for these murders. Fanatics targeting Iraqi academics are wreaking havoc on the educational system by threatening, kidnapping and killing innocent professors.
-- The Iraqi insurgency is now self-sustaining financially, profiting from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that neither the Iraqi government nor the U.S. have been unable to prevent.
How about the spin of the successful Iraqi reconstruction?
As the Washington Post notes: The U.S. has committed $38 billion to reconstruction, and most of the money has been spent. "Yet tallying finished projects can be a misleading way of measuring success."
-- The United States has finished repairs on 86 of 98 railway stations. But few trains run because of security concerns.
-- In the oil sector, while production capacity has nearly returned to prewar levels, the country had a severe fuel shortage this summer because of high demand and sabotage.
-- More than 100 health-care facilities that were scheduled to be finished by now instead are empty because the contractors assigned to build them did not get their jobs done.
-- The U.S. claims it has restored access to water, and return electricity to pre-war levels. But Iraqis interviewed by the Post say that Iraqis are drinking untreated water, and that electricity only works two hours each day.
We need U.S. leadership willing to accept the reality on the ground, and speak to the American people like adults.
Until the Bush Administration stops spinning how it's "full speed ahead" in Iraq -- as Vice President Cheney said this month -- the situation in Iraq can only get worse.