Bush credibility on line in Iraq vote
If the constitution is defeated, the president's claims of progress will look ridiculous
Friday, October 14, 2005
Wonder how we're really doing in Iraq? You'll know better after this weekend when Iraqis vote yes or no on their new draft constitution.
For months now, we've been asked to take on faith the Bush administration claim that things in Iraq are going according to plan, right on schedule. Never mind the accumulating American casualties and the inability to quell the suicide bombings or secure Iraq borders against the inflow of foreign jihadists. Even as U.S. troops and Iraqi security battalions suppress the insurgency in one place it erupts somewhere else.
Patience with the American effort is wearing thin in Iraq, with electricity and oil production still not back to where they were under Saddam Hussein and reconstruction efforts lagging. Patience here at home is fading as well, which may be even more important.
It seems likely that the Iraqi constitution will pass, the real question is how legitimately will the election prove out to be. The election for a new government back in January, while an indisputable victory for Bush (the master of low expectations, and of course, that's precisely what he set ahead of those elections), proved to be fleeting, as Iraqis still see daily bombings and insurgent attacks not on Americans, but on fellow Iraqis.
Add to that the insurmountable problems involved in the rebuilding and reconstruction efforts that Walker notes, and you can see that this election has a lot of hidden meaning to both the Iraqis and the administration.
For it's not just that the election will determine a constitution, but whether the rule of law will ultimately set roots in Iraq. No constitution can be upheld unless the basic laws that govern men can be respected.
I don't see that happening here, and so I suspect the strategy going forward will be to pass the constitution, declare our work done after a modest period of "adjustment", and get the hell out in time for the midterm elections.
I suspect the insurgents see this the same way. I suspect we'll see more blood after the constitution is passed than before.
Bush has wasted the political capital he earned in the legtimizing of his re-selection. He wasted the goodwill of the entire planet after 9-11. He wasted our budget surplus.
One day he will be gone. Sadly, the tragic legacy of American hegemony will not, and we will pay a dear price for it, as all empires have.