Feeling Bush's Pain

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The NY Times reports July was the bloodiest yet for Iraqi civilians, with the body count at 3,438. That is a 9% increase over the previous month. And in another story the NYT reports Bush expressed frustration Monday "that the new Iraqi government - and the Iraqi people - had not shown greater public support for the American mission...". If one has any heart at all, President Bush's self made Catch-22, called the Iraq occupation, must elicit a large dose of empathy if not sympathy.

Droves of politicians from the Right and Left are distancing themselves, as best they can, from having had anything to do with the decision to invade Iraq as election day approaches. Conservative politicians are doing a real Texas 3 step away from the President in hopes of salvaging their political careers. When I take a moment to consider how I would feel if I were in President Bush's shoes this week, it makes me immensely sad. Simultaneously however, the thought comes to mind PDQ that I would never, in his shoes, have made that decision to invade Iraq. War is one of the gravest decisions any people can ever commit themselves to.

Theory is one of the worst reasons I can think of to go to war, second only to greed. Any theory like the Bush administration's Middle Eastern Democratic Domino effect should have been laughed at heartily by anyone with a lick of practical sense and even a cursory knowledge of the history of Iraq straight out of the year 2000 CIA Fact Book. Following are some quotes:

government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Shi'a Muslims, who have inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced;

Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%

Religions: Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%

Languages: Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian

Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write - total literate population: 58%
Executive branch:
chief of state: President SADDAM Husayn (since 16 July 1979); Vice President Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF (since 21 April 1974); Vice President Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since 23 March 1991) ...
note: there is also a Revolutionary Command Council or RCC (Chairman SADDAM Husayn, Vice Chairman Izzat IBRAHIM al-Duri) which controls the ruling Ba'th Party, and is the most powerful political entity in the country
Political pressure groups and leaders: any formal political activity must be sanctioned by the government; opposition to regime from Kurdish groups and southern Shi'a dissidents
Economy - overview: Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. ...

The implementation of the UN's oil-for-food program in December 1996 has helped improve economic conditions. For the first six six-month phases of the program, Iraq was allowed to export limited amounts of oil in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods. In December 1999, the UN Security Council authorized Iraq to export under the oil-for-food program as much oil as required to meet humanitarian needs. Oil exports are now about three-quarters their prewar level. Per capita food imports have increased significantly, while medical supplies and health care services are steadily improving. Per capita output and living standards are still well below the prewar level, but any estimates have a wide range of error...

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,700 (1999 est.)

Exports - partners: Russia, France, China (1999)

GDP: purchasing power parity - $59.9 billion (1999 est.)
Debt - external: $130 billion (1999 est.)

There it is, many of the facts known in 2000 by our government. Put them together, and one has a fairly clear picture about invading Iraq. The B'athist Party ruled over opposing factions of Kurds and Shi'a which spelled payback time if Hussein were dethroned. Iraq was a poor country with poor people of which only slighlty more than half were literate. Was winning hearts and minds through an appeal to reason in the cards after Hussein was dethroned? And what about getting the UN to back the move? Our government knew from the facts above that France, Russia and China were going to be reluctant to have their trade from Iraq interrupted.

So, how is it President Bush and our Congress made the decision to invade Iraq? It wasn't WMD. Our inspectors said they hadn't found any evidence of any. Is it possible they did not consult the CIA Fact Book of 2000 in their decision planning as to whether or not to invade Iraq? It seems clear from the many stories that arose after the invasion about CIA analysts disagreeing with the decision, and these facts above in the public record, that the White House had been appraised of the facts and what they portended once Hussein was removed from power. So, why was the decision made anyway? Could a domino theory have been the culprit? Was it personal in light of an assasination attempt in previous years by Hussein on our President's father? Or, was it that all other facts were diminished by the one in the Fact Book about OIL providing 95% of the Iraq's foreign exchange credits?

My guess is, all of the above! As quickly as my feeling of Bush's pain came, it took flight from the light of these facts.

(Notes: NYTimes articles require a free registration to review.
The Link to the CIA Fact Book takes one directly to the Iraq page which has no reference to the CIA Fact Book. The initial entry page for the CIA Fact Book is here and identifies the following material as such.)

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on August 16, 2006 6:20 AM.

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