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An excellent summary of why Bush's plans for Iraq have gone so badly.

The well-regarded British research organization, Chatham House, has published a new report with the seemingly unobjectionable title “Accepting Realities in Iraq.” But it is that difficulty – facing up to what is real – that has been at the heart of this political and military catastrophe.

From the beginning, George W. Bush and his neoconservative advisers have put ideology and wishful thinking ahead of rationality and realism. This tendency explains why so many pieces of evidence cited to support the Iraq invasion have proven false and why so many claims of progress have proven overly optimistic.

There always was a cockiness among Bush and his Republican allies that they could bend American perceptions of reality by putting out their message aggressively and shouting down any dissenting voices.

Given the potent right-wing news media – and the timid and complicit mainstream press – the neocon strategy of flooding the process with alarming pseudo-information worked wonders in 2002, convincing many Americans that there was a desperate need to invade Iraq.

During that run-up to war, very few people were willing to risk their careers by challenging the Bush administration's narrative on Iraq. Those who did – from former weapons inspector Scott Ritter to the Dixie Chicks – were punished. “Respectable” Washington political circles, including key Democrats and leading journalists, largely sided with Bush.


Indeed, today's intractable crisis in the Middle East is arguably more dangerous because of the divergence between the harsh realities in Iraq and the more pleasing false reality that has been cultivated in Washington.

In particular, Bush's Republican “base” continues to believe that the war in Iraq is going well, that the “surge” is bringing America closer to victory and that the biggest problem is that “liberal bias” in the news media is obscuring all the President's successes.


In its May 2007 report, Chatham House asserts that a fundamental weakness in Bush's Iraq strategy has been the failure of the United States and its allies to appreciate the severity of the political and security problems in Iraq.

“This analytical failing has led to the pursuit of strategies that suit ideal depictions of how Iraq should look, but are often unrepresentative of the current situation,” the report said, arguing for strategies that at least recognize the underlying realities.

The report said those realities include: “the social fabric of Iraq has been torn apart” with the country facing multiple civil wars and multiple insurgencies; the U.S.-backed national government cannot exert control over large sections of the country; any security plan would have to last “many years,” not just months; and al-Qaeda has succeeded in establishing itself in major Iraqi cities, including Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul – now possibly strong enough to withstand challenges from rival insurgent groups.

“While the Bush administration is still clinging to the hope that the situation in Iraq can be turned around, the tasks that lie ahead do not inspire great optimism,” the report said. “The legacy of four years of instability may present insurmountable obstacles to any process of promoting meaningful political inclusion. Iraqi society has now been transformed by violence.”

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