Bush’s speech

If President Bush had been talking a year ago, after the fall of Baghdad, his speech at the Army War College on May 24 night might have sounded like a plan for moving forward. He was able to point to a new UN resolution being developed in consultation with American allies and to a timetable for moving Iraq toward elected self-government. But he spoke after nearly 14 months of policy failures.

The speech reflected the fact that Bush has been backtracking lately, but he did not come close to charting the new course he needs to take. His “five steps” toward Iraqi independence were merely a recit-ation of the tasks ahead. It’s regrettable that he is never going to admit any shortcomings, much less failure. Bush has yet to come up with a realistic way. There are ways he can achieve the clean break that is so essential. A good start, first put forward by the Centre for American Progress in Washington, is to go much further in internationalising the next phase of the Iraq operation. Bush could convene a summit meeting to create a multinational group to oversee the transition. The UN Security Council could step up its participation by appointing an international high representative to supervise the interim Iraqi government until the first round of elections. Also, Bush should, as suggested by John Kerry, pursue restructuring the military force in Iraq under NATO. — The New York Times