Blair Could have Delayed Beginning of War: Meyer;
Sadrists Will Boycott Cairo Conference
Sir Christopher Meyer, former British ambassador in Washington, blames Prime Minister Tony Blair for not slowing the Bush administration’s rush to war in 2003. Meyer implies that he could see that the Bush team was poorly prepared for the aftermath, and says that a delay of a month or several months would have allowed this problem to be addressed.
Tidbits: Irving Lewis Libby, Cheney’s then chief of staff, told Meyer that Britain is “the only ally that matters.” This is Neocon doctrine, which holds that the US, Britain, and Turkey are the only permanent partners in war, whereas other allies can be brought in or cycled out at will. Berlusconi must feel badly used. (And the Turks rather let Libby down . . . )
Karl Rove, Bush’s political adviser, told Meyer that an Iraq War could be delayed until September of 2003, and that the delay would have no impact on the presidential campaign.
Meanwhile in contemporary Iraq, the US military (2500 GIs) and some 1,000 Iraqi troops continued their offensive in Western Iraq out near the Syrian border. This is not the first attack on the small town of Qaim, and there is no reason in my view to believe that this one will be more successful in fighting terrorism than the last.
A marine was killed in an ambush on Sunday and 3 US troops received light wounds, according to the NYT. But far from being a substantial base for the foreign fighters within the guerrilla movement, a town like Husaybah was abandoned starting in September and so it is a ghost town, with just a few hundred people left. The actual numbers of captured or killed jihadis are likely to be low.
What I can’t understand is that the US military pays much less attention to Sunni Arab districts of Baghdad such as Azamiyah, which is surely a base for the guerrilla movement and which is far more populous and important than a dinky little district like Qaim.
Al-Zaman: Sunni Arab leaders accused the US of conducting a campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing in their sweep of the Western cities. (This allegation is, needless to say, not correct.)
The same newspaper reports that the Shiites are very nervous about the forthcoming Arab League Conference on national reconciliation. Because of the danger that the Arab League government might invite some Baathist Sunnis, politicians such as the young Shiite nationals Muqtada al-Sadr are already saying that they will not go to the conference. Likewise, the leader of the Badr Corps (the Shiite paramilitary of SCIRI) is saying his organization will boycott the conference.