Bush Administration to Acknowledge Error, or Tighten Authoritarian Control

Bush, Rats & a Sinking Ship
By Robert Parry
February 25, 2006
In just this past week, conservative legend William F. Buckley Jr. and neoconservative icon Francis Fukuyama have joined the swelling ranks of Americans judging George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq a disaster.

“One can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed,” Buckley wrote at National Review Online on Feb. 24, adding that the challenge now facing Bush and his top advisers is how to cope with the reality of that failure.

“Within their own counsels, different plans have to be made,” Buckley wrote after a week of bloody sectarian violence in Iraq. “And the kernel here is the acknowledgement of defeat.”

Fukuyama, a leading neoconservative theorist, went further citing not just the disaster in Iraq but the catastrophe enveloping Bush’s broader strategy of preemptive military American interventions, waged unilaterally when necessary.

“The so-called Bush Doctrine that set the framework for the administration’s first term is now in shambles,” Fukuyama wrote Feb. 19 in The New York Times Magazine.

“Successful preemption depends on the ability to predict the future accurately and on good intelligence, which was not forthcoming, while America’s perceived unilateralism has isolated it as never before,” Fukuyama wrote.
Bush picked his belligerent course in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington. Though the world had rallied to America’s side – offering both sympathy and cooperation in fighting terrorism – Bush chose to issue ultimatums.

Bush famously told other nations that they were either “with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Vowing to “rid the world of evil,” he made clear he would brush aside any restrictions on his actions, including the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

Europeans were soon protesting Bush’s treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Muslims were voicing growing hatred for the United States. Though Bush's tough actions were popular with his base, they played poorly abroad.

“It annoys your allies in the war against terrorism, and it creates problems for our Muslim allies, too,” one West European ambassador said in 2002. “It puts at stake the moral credibility of the war against terrorism.”
Iraq War

On March 19, 2003, Bush took another fateful step, ordering the invasion of Iraq despite being denied authority from the U.N. Security Council.

After ousting Saddam Hussein’s regime three weeks later, Bush basked in popular acclaim from many Americans. He even donned a flight suit for a “Mission Accomplished” aircraft-carrier celebration on May 1, 2003.

During those heady days, Bush and his neoconservative advisers dreamed of remaking the entire Middle East with pro-U.S. leaders chosen through elections and Arab nations ending their hostility toward Israel.

But Bush’s wishful thinking began to run into trouble. A fierce resistance emerged in Iraq, claiming the lives of hundreds – and then thousands – of U.S. soldiers who couldn’t quell the violence. Instead of contributing to peace, the Iraqi elections deepened the country’s sectarian divisions – empowering the Shiite majority while alienating the Sunni minority.
The latest defectors – Buckley and Fukuyama – threaten to pull away even members of Bush’s political base. Buckley is the godfather of conservative punditry, while Fukuyama has been a bright light among neocon theorists.

Now, Bush must decide what to do – admit mistakes and heed the advice of critics – or circle the wagons even tighter and lash out at the growing majority of Americans who think the war in Iraq was a deadly mistake.

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