TOPICS : Iraq war is hurting America

The conventional wisdom says that President Bush’s recent campaigning has brought on a tilt toward Republican congressional candidates in fall elections. But all the other indicators point the other way.

The latest National Intelligence Estimate of the war on terror reports that “anti-US sentiment is on the rise and fuelling other radical ideologies.” One reason is the lack of success in stabilising and pacifying Iraq. The implication is that the US is losing the war in Iraq. In one sense, the Army is plainly losing the war. It is shorter of manpower and equipment now than when it invaded Iraq in 2003. The 3rd Infantry Division, which led the invasion of Baghdad and which has already served two tours in Iraq, has been alerted to prepare for a third tour. But there is no equipment with which to train. What was not destroyed or worn out in Iraq was left there for the replacements.

Besides the equipment shortage, the division’s 2nd Brigade has only about half of the roughly 3,500 soldiers it is supposed to have. Fort Stewart, Ga, where the 3rd Infantry Division is based, has been receiving about 1,000 soldiers a month, of whom 400 are just out of basic training. This is the result of an intensified recruiting drive, but it will be a year, perhaps longer, before they are combat ready. The Bush administration wanted to fight the war on the cheap. It did not want to ask the public for sacrifices, such as paying higher taxes. On the contrary, it fought in Congress to keep taxes low, thereby making the richest one per cent of the population even richer.

Vice President Cheney said in a television interview last month that critics of the war in Iraq are encouraging terrorists. Former president Johnson said a similar thing about the war in Vietnam. In the same interview, Cheney said that even if the Bush administration had known before the war that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it would have “done exactly the same thing.”

The implication is that the weapons of mass destruction did not matter. If that is so, then why did the administration make such a fuss about them? Why did it damage the credibility of its secretary of state by sending him to mislead the Security Council so grievously? Was the whole purpose of this war to get rid of Saddam Hussein? And are we going to be told at some time in the future that it did not matter if Iran had nuclear weapons; what mattered was getting rid of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Indeed, just 61 per cent of Iraqis now say that ousting Hussein was worth the hardships they might have suffered, according to a survey conducted last month by

Another question follows:

Will this war leave the US stronger or weaker, with greater or lesser international prestige, than it had before 9/11? Bush talks about spreading democracy. But in fact, through his assault on the Bill of Rights in our own Constitution, he is weakening democracy. — The Christian Science Monitor