Monday, June 25, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- June 25th edition

June 25, 2006: Marines react to suspicious movement in the distance during a patrol in Haditha.

June 25, 2002:

Bush's Speech

PRESIDENT BUSH rose to the occasion yesterday. As he did in his speech to Congress on September 20, in his State of the Union address on January 29, and in his West Point speech on June l, he rose above the morass of diplomatic double-speak and the in-fighting of his own administration, left behind the tired and failed formulas of the past, and charted a new course for American foreign policy.

It is important to put yesterday's speech in the context of the broader Bush Doctrine, which the speech complements and advances. The Bush Doctrine involves a thorough-going war on terror, a determination to prevent hostile dictators from holding the civilized world hostage to weapons of mass destruction, and--now, especially, after yesterday's speech--a positive vision of American leadership on behalf of democratic and liberal principles for the sake of peace. Previously, the Middle East has been regarded as exempt from the requirements of liberal democracy. Previously, it was thought one could have a serious peace process without peaceful regimes. Now, the president has embraced the only realistic version of a Middle East peace process, though also, of course, a very ambitious one.

In doing this, President Bush has delivered perhaps the most profound statement by any American president about the Middle East since Truman. At the same time, as with Truman, he has now committed himself to an active and bold role in this part of the world that will require all parts of his administration acting in concert to implement his vision. This vision of a democratic and peaceful swath of the Middle East, from Israel through Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq, has now become the governing objective of the Bush administration--and ambitious though it is, it is really the only realistic path to peace in the Middle East and to victory in the war on terror.

Read the rest at the Weekly Standard

June 25, 2003:

Leave Iraq as soon as possible

Here's what a supporter of the war told me about the need for a lengthy U.S. occupation of Iraq: "If we don't stay, it will only be worse than before."
The irony of his statement was completely lost on him. Of course, Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. His regime was also at least pursuing the development of weapons of mass destruction (although the search for any WMD currently is coming up empty). But Iraq was never a direct and imminent threat to the United States. Nor was Saddam in bed with al-Qaeda, as was the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Instead of accepting a less-than-ideal situation in Iraq, the United States now is in the position of having to fix what it broke.

The problem with Iraq — and all nation-building efforts — is the natural desire to get it "right," which is a prescription for endless occupation. And the cruel irony is that the longer the United States stays, however well intentioned and noble the motive, the more Iraqis will come to resent a foreign occupier. The guerrilla-style tactics being used to pick off U.S. and British troops may only be the tip of the iceberg. The lesson should be clear: The United States must leave Iraq at the earliest possible opportunity.

But to do so requires a willingness to renounce the unrealistic goal of building a perfect democracy in Iraq. U.S. national security demands only that any new government not harbor or support terrorists who would harm the United States.

Even an Islamic government would not necessarily be hostile to the United States. In the words of one Iraqi: "We thank the Americans for getting rid of Saddam's regime, but now Iraq must be run by Iraqis."

To prevent gratitude from turning to resentment and hostility, we must have the wisdom to leave as quickly as possible. If we don't, the United States runs the risk of enduring its own version of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan: Arabs and Muslims from the region may flock to Iraq to expel the American infidel, and the United States could be bogged down for years.

Read the rest at USA Today

June 25, 2004:

Democracy impossible in Iraq: ex-envoy

US President George Bush's plan for a Western-style democracy in Iraq will never materialize, Britain's former envoy to the country said on Thursday.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who represented London in Iraq until March, said the priorities for most Iraqis were security, jobs and a return to normal life.

"There is never going to be a Western-style democracy in Iraq," Mr Greenstock said in a speech to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a London-based think tank. "Democracy comes quite a long way after the restoration of a decent life.

"That is how I would sum up the reaction of the vast majority of Iraqis, within their culture, within their community, within their Iraqi context." His comments echo those of former British prime minister John Major, who said last year he never envisaged Iraq "as a democracy of the Western sort".

Mr Bush has said imposing a pluralistic democracy in Iraq was one of the aims of the US-led invasion to topple former president Saddam Hussein. Mr Green stock said Iraq's leaders face a "roller coaster" battle to bring security under control after next week's planned handover of power to Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government.

"The worst-case scenario is an implosion of Iraqi security and society down to levels lower than the unified state...perhaps back to the mediaeval picture of local baronies," Mr Greenstock said.

Mr Greenstock was Britain's permanent representative to the United Nations between 1998 and 2003 leading efforts to pass a Security Council resolution to authorize the invasion of Iraq, and was later London's envoy to Iraq.

Read the rest at the Dawn

June 25, 2005:

President says Iraqis more optimistic, violence 'only part of the reality'

As public support for his Iraq policy declines, President Bush is working to convince wary Americans that he has a military and political strategy for success in the war in which 1,730 U.S. troops have been killed.

In his radio address on Saturday, Bush warned that there is likely to be more tough fighting to come in Iraq. And, as he did in his meeting at the White House Friday with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Bush urged Americans to share their confidence in a positive outcome to the war.

“The Iraqi people are growing in optimism and hope,” Bush said. “They understand that the violence is only a part of the reality in Iraq.”

Read the rest at Newsweek

June 25, 2006:

U.S. general in Iraq outlines troop cuts

The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.

Under the plan, the first reductions would involve two combat brigades that would rotate out of Iraq in September without being replaced. Military officials do not typically characterize reductions by total troop numbers, but rather by brigades. Combat brigades, which generally have about 3,500 troops, do not make up the bulk of the 127,000-member American force in Iraq, and other kinds of units would not be pulled out as quickly.

American officials emphasized that any withdrawals would depend on continued progress, including the development of competent Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the new Iraqi government and the assumption that the insurgency will not expand beyond Iraq's six central provinces. Even so, the projected troop withdrawals in 2007 are more significant than many experts had expected.

General Casey's briefing has remained a closely held secret, and it was described by American officials who agreed to discuss the details only on condition of anonymity.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune