The Los Angeles Times recently featured two amazing and seemingly unrelated articles: "Iraqi Asks U.S. to Step Back From Talks" and "U.S. Official Says Taliban Is on the Rise." While over there Bush was actually in Afghanistan trying to proclaim Mission Accomplished ("Afghanistan on Path to Success, Declares Bush") back at home his own head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Michael Maples, was testifying before Congress that, "We judge insurgents now represent a greater threat to the expansion of Afghan government authority than at any point since late 2001 and will be active this spring."
Meanwhile in Iraq, "Iraq's foreign minister cautioned U.S. officials to take a 'less visible, lower profile' in talks aimed at forming a new national government, as a surge in bombings Tuesday shattered a brief lull in sectarian violence."
So in Iraq we can't help with the negotiations of forming a new government and our troops are on lockdown because they're seen as more of an accelerant of the chaos than a force for peace during this the beginning of their civil war. Then on the cover of the Los Angeles Times just yesterday, "Iraq"s Besieged Sunnis Now Looking to U.S." So now that we've lost several thousand lives and limbs protecting the Iraqi Shiites and helping them construct the beginnings of an army, now is our task to protect the Iraqi Sunnis, some of whom would be the very same insurgents planting the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have killed so many of our soldiers?
"Cut and run"? Bush already has by cutting down to zero the amount we are spending to rebuild the country so that nothing inside it runs at all. Meanwhile Iran has pledged a billion dollars to help rebuild the land of their old enemy. I thought Bush was a good capitalist. Doesn't he realize what the Iranians do, that you can't buy goodwill with a bullet but you can with free food, a shiny new hospital or a water purification plant? In fact, though our reputation among Muslims in general has never been worse, in two parts of the world we are actually relatively popular: Indonesia and Northern Pakistan, two places that we have aided massively after their natural disasters.
And what about Afghanistan? Remember that place? The war that we all agreed on? The land that still harbors al Qaeda? According to the latest Zogby poll 85% of our soldiers fighting in Iraq still believe Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Wouldn't they be a whole lot more motivated to fight the real bad guys? And by finishing the job and cleaning up and rebuilding Afghanistan we would have both international support and the support of most Americans at home.
What is the Bush administration's response? According to NPR we're actually reducing the number of American troops in Afghanistan (already a paltry twenty thousand. There are almost twice as many cops in New York City) and cutting aid to the country from $1 billion to $620 million. We have the power to make Afghanistan a showplace of Islamic democracy. Instead, Captain Ahab Bush has lashed all of us to the whale of Iraq and doesn't seem to care that we're all going down with the ship.