OPINION

The final act

In politics, the only thing worse than committing a mistake is perpetuating one. A mistake is usually costly. But insisting on a mistaken policy causes multiple damage, even disaster. The speech by US President George W. Bush is the latest example: It took the White House almost four years to admit what has been obvious for a long time. The American troops are mired in the minefield of Mesopotamia. From early victors, they have ended up political hostages. Any immediate exit from Iraq will damage Washington’s image and credibility, while the administration will go down as well. On the other hand, the USA cannot «stay the course» for much longer. Bush is trying to evade the problem, attributing failure to bad operational decisions. The decision to send an extra 21,000 troops is his latest attempt to provide a military solution. But his optimism is ill-founded. Similarly, the Iraqi government cannot be expected to have asserted control of the country by November. If change does come, it will be for the worse. Domestic pressure on the Bush administration and the self-imposed deadline will only fuel Iraq’s insurgency. The rising death toll and burgeoning insecurity will undermine American morale and bring forward a US exit strategy. Given the current situation, prolonging the US occupation would only make sense if it came along with a blueprint for a political settlement. The truth is, Washington has little room to maneuver. A federal Iraq is no viable option. Splitting it into three separate states appears the most likely scenario at the moment. In fact, the US would welcome the creation of a Kurdish state, as it would gain an important ally in an oil-rich region.