OP-ED: The final battle —Munnoo Bhai
The only way out of the pit for the US is to sacrifice George W Bush, the president who lost the popular vote in the last election. The final battle in the war for protecting US interests in the Middle East will have to be fought in the form of presidential election this November
GENERAL Montgomery, a hero of World War II, was once asked how many wars he had won. “I won only the last battle,” he had answered. It is the last battle, of course, that determines whether one should count for a winner or loser. The trouble is, nobody knows which battle will prove the last.
Even US President George W Bush, the commander-in-chief and leader of the world’s greatest war machine, is not sure of the battle that will crown him as a world conqueror or condemn him for life to the humiliation of defeat. Worse still, a defeat may not be limited to his person. Like the humiliation in Vietnam it could wound the psyche of the entire nation. Fareed Zakariya of the US weekly Newsweek says the US forces that conquered Baghdad have done well to concede defeat in Falluja, Karbala and Najaf. Conceding defeat, he believes, is better and wiser than being beaten.
The Republican C-in-C of the United States has faced defeat on three fronts besides Falluja, Karbala, and Najaf. Considering occupation of Baghdad their final victory, President Bush and Secretary for Defence Rumsfeld had proudly declared that there would be no need to send more US troops to Iraq. But the need arose and 20,000 US troops had to be sent to reinforce the occupying forces. When it came to invading Iraq, the US government — having pushed Afghanistan into early stone-age — ignored the United Nations. Later it ruled out any role for the UN in Iraq.
It has since been forced to accept the UN’s presence in Iraq after June 30 and to admit its important role in setting up the new Iraqi government. Having seen the consequences of the political blunder in firing the half-million-strong Iraqi army to liquidate the influence of the Baath Party, the US is now forced to seek cooperation from the same Baath Party. Had the US adopted this attitude 14 months ago, Fareed Zakariya believes, the situation would have been different.
A cartoon in the magazine depicts the ground reality. President Bush is shown inviting the new rulers of Iraq to receive the keys to power. Nobody, however, is willing to step ahead to receive the keys because this requires stepping into territory targeted by popular resistance. The American government seems to have neglected the English idiom advising those finding themselves in a well to stop digging and focus instead on safely getting out.
In Washington, where I accompanied Amjad Islam Amjad, Himayet Ali Shair and Hanif Akhgar to participate in the annual meeting of the Association of Pakistani Physicians in North America, Pakistani journalists familiar with diplomatic activities told me the US foreign policy, particularly the policy on the Middle East and the Iraq war had slipped out of the hands of Secretary Rumsfeld and the Pentagon and returned to the National Security Council. Council member Robert Blackwell, they said, was now running the Iraq policy. The blunders caused by the US rulers’ hunger and thirst for oil over the past 14 months are, however, hard to undo.
The Pakistani journalists in Washington believe the only way out of the pit for the US is to sacrifice George W Bush, the president who lost the popular vote in the last election. The final battle in the war for protecting US interests in the Middle East and Gulf countries will have to be fought in the form of presidential election this November. A defeat for Bush will be more important than a victory for John Kerry. Some battles have to be lost on some fronts to win the war.
Pakistani journalists familiar with the US policies say the November 2004 US election results may be more surprising than the results of the recent Indian elections. The thinking that stopped Ahmad Chalabi from becoming Iraq’s new Saddam Hussein can choose to sacrifice Bush to get out of the pit in Iraq. A mistake once may be forgivable; repeating it is an offence.
Munnoo Bhai is a writer and columnist