A triumph foretold

The New York Times greeted the one-year anniversary of the handover of Iraq’s sovereignty with a dose of sarcasm: «If the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan,» the Tuesday editorial said. Despite the holding of free elections in Iraq, the past year saw an escalation in insurgency. Approximately 1,740 American soldiers have been killed so far – 900 of them in the past 12 months. US Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld acknowledged the deadlock, saying that it may take as long as 12 years to quell the insurgency. He also confirmed that US officials have held talks with insurgent groups in a bid to reach a political solution to the crisis. The spillover effects of the war are also disquieting. In neighboring Iran – whose influence on Iraq has grown since the Shi’ites took the helm in Bagdad – the reformists were swept from power in the last elections. The hardline president-elect hailed his election triumph as a new Islamic revolution «that will soon reach the entire world.» Reports of torture in the Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons as well as on US Navy ships in extraterritorial waters have marred the image of America as an exporter of democracy in the Middle East. A recent survey found that 65 percent of people in Turkey, a NATO member, consider Washington a military threat. It’s hard to share George W. Bush’s optimism about the prospects of the Iraq campaign. Perhaps the US president had in mind the Aiken solution for Vietnam. As the US campaign turned sour, losing popular support at home, Senator George Aiken, a Vermont Republican, gave Johnson his famous advice: «Declare victory and go home.»

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