Thursday, September 23, 2004

The bubble boy

The bubble boy
Bush lives in a world immune from the realities of Iraq.
By Sidney Blumenthal

Sept. 23, 2004  |  The news is grim, but the president is "optimistic." The intelligence is sobering, but he tosses aside "pessimistic predictions." His opponent says he has "no credibility," but the president replies that it is his rival who is "twisting in the wind." The secretary general of the United Nations speaks of the "rule of law," but Bush talks before a mute General Assembly of "a new definition of security." Between the rhetoric and the reality lies the campaign.
A reliable source who has just returned after assessing the facts on the ground for U.S. intelligence services told me that in Iraq, U.S. commanders have plans for this week and the next, but that there is "no overarching strategy." The New York Times reports an offensive is in the works to capture the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah -- after the election. In the meantime, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other al-Qaida-linked terrorists operate from there at will, as they have for more than a year. The president speaks of new Iraqi security forces, but not even half of the U.S. personnel have been assigned to the headquarters of the Multinational Security Transition Command.
Bush's vision of the liberation of Iraq as the restaging of the liberation of France -- justified by his unearthing of Saddam Hussein's fearful weapons of mass destruction; paid for by the flow of cheap oil; and leading to the establishment of democracy, regime change in Iran and Syria, and the quiescence of stunned Palestinians -- has melted before harsh facts. But reality cannot be permitted to obscure the image. The liberation is "succeeding," he insists, and only pessimists cannot see it...