This is the $64,000 question. No one can know for use but I believe there are a number of forces which are driving Bush. First, I believe that President Bush was surprised by the ferocity and the frankness of the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations. The recommendations were complete repudiation of his policies. Really, all of his policies. Therefore, he couldn’t endorse all of them. On the other hand, the Iraq Study Group was caught between a rock and a hard place. They had to come up with recommendations that were forceful enough to acknowledge the problems in Iraq currently. The American people would not have accepted an endorsement of the current policy.
Secondly, there are the regional realities. Saudi Arabia is a major player. Saudi Arabia is the home of most of the 9/11 hijackers. Saudi Arabia is made up of mostly Sunni Arabs. Therefore, a policy that punishes the Sunnis would not be suitable to Saudi Arabia. There was an interesting piece in the Washington Post by a Saudi adviser. The piece almost went unnoticed. Once the pieces read then it becomes clear of why the Vice President went to Saudi Arabia. I don’t know this for a fact but it appears that he was summoned to Saudi Arabia. I am positive that Vice President Cheney was told that if the United States begins a phased withdrawal in Saudi Arabia will enter the conflict to protect its Sunni brothers. This will cause to protect its Shiite brothers. Regional conflict will ensue. An article in today’s New York Times supports the fact that Saudi Arabia will become a major player if the United States begins to pull out of Iraq.
Thirdly, it is unclear how the new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, will fit into this whole mix. How much influence will he have over policy?
I think it is clear that President Bush is not going to do any type of withdrawal. The question is how much are we going to “stay the course?” Bush is a political animal. He has seen the polls no matter how much he tries to tell us he hasn’t. He also knows that he is unable to do much without the will of the American people. I look for Bush to try to convince the American people that we need to follow Senator John McCain’s idea — increasing troop strength. I look for only a few of the recommendations of the Iraqi Study Group to be implemented. Iraq is going to get uglier and our political scene is going to get uglier before we see any improvement, in my humble opinion.
The following is a chilling piece written by Nawaf Obaid, adviser to the Saudi Royal family. He has subsequently resigned his post but his words are no less important. This is a window into the complexity of the Iraqi problem. This is why President Bush (41) did not invade Iraq. This is also why a diplomatic solution is necessary.
In February 2003, a month before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, warned President Bush that he would be “solving one problem and creating five more” if he removed Saddam Hussein by force. Had Bush heeded his advice, Iraq would not now be on the brink of full-blown civil war and disintegration.
One hopes he won’t make the same mistake again by ignoring the counsel of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who said in a speech last month that “since America came into Iraq uninvited, it should not leave Iraq uninvited.” If it does, one of the first consequences will be massive Saudi intervention to stop Iranian-backed Shiite militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis.
Over the past year, a chorus of voices has called for Saudi Arabia to protect the Sunni community in Iraq and thwart Iranian influence there. Senior Iraqi tribal and religious figures, along with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and other Arab and Muslim countries, have petitioned the Saudi leadership to provide Iraqi Sunnis with weapons and financial support. Moreover, domestic pressure to intervene is intense. Major Saudi tribal confederations, which have extremely close historical and communal ties with their counterparts in Iraq, are demanding action. They are supported by a new generation of Saudi royals in strategic government positions who are eager to see the kingdom play a more muscular role in the region.
Because King Abdullah has been working to minimize sectarian tensions in Iraq and reconcile Sunni and Shiite communities, because he gave President Bush his word that he wouldn’t meddle in Iraq (and because it would be impossible to ensure that Saudi-funded militias wouldn’t attack U.S. troops), these requests have all been refused. They will, however, be heeded if American troops begin a phased withdrawal from Iraq. As the economic powerhouse of the Middle East, the birthplace of Islam and the de facto leader of the world’s Sunni community (which comprises 85 percent of all Muslims), Saudi Arabia has both the means and the religious responsibility to intervene. Continue reading
Just as I predicted. Tony Snow tells it like it is (yesterday) – I know a lot of you have been curious about when he would be announcing or talking about the way forward. That is not going to happen until the New Year We do not know when, so I can’t give you a date, I cant give you a time, I can’t give you a place, I can’t give you a way in which it will happen, so all of those questions are yet to be answered.
I’ll see if I can get a little video to go with this. later.