Salon: Iraq’s worst week — and Bush’s
Cole in the Chronicle
My essay at Salon.com this week is:
Iraq’s worst week — and Bush’s
As Americans finally begin to grasp the magnitude of the Iraq catastrophe, Bush’s popularity hits a new low.
By Juan Cole
Here is an excerpt:
“The catastrophe in Iraq, the scope of which is now apparent to even the most disengaged observer, and his mishandling of the Dubai port issue have sent President George W. Bush’s public approval ratings to the lowest of his presidency. According to a Reuters poll, only 34 percent of Americans believe he is doing a good job overall. Only 30 percent, less than a third, think he is managing the Iraq situation well. A remarkable 72 percent of American troops polled in Iraq think the U.S. should leave Iraq within the next year. Nor is there any hope for Bush on the horizon. The bloody events in Iraq have undermined American authority in that country and in the Middle East more generally. The Shiite clergy of Iran and Iraq have bolstered their own authority at Bush’s expense. This development has already severely limited his scope of action in Iran, and will doubtless have many other negative consequences in the months and years ahead.
Tactically, strategically and politically Bush now finds himself in the worst of all possible worlds. With Americans increasingly fed up with the Iraq debacle, he needs to start drawing down troops soon, but he can’t do it while the country teeters on the brink of civil war. If civil war does break out, a U.S. withdrawal will look even more like cutting and running — under these circumstances, not even Karl Rove will be able to figure out a way to get away with simply declaring victory and going home. Yet if American troops stay, they have no good options either. . .”
Also, my review of three books on al-Qaeda and related groups is out in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Sorry, it is behind a firewall for non-subscribers for the moment.