Like the Roman Emperor Nero who blamed the Christians for Rome's destructive conflagration when he had lit the torch himself, is the US president. While Nero is said to have fiddled while Rome burned, Mr. Bush was biking and barbecuing while hurricane Katrina threatened to devastate New Orleans and Iraq is in deep crises over its higgledy-piggledy draft constitution.
Likewise, is his co-conqueror Tony Blair, who between sunning himself on Barbados has termed the Iraqi draft document "an important and historic achievement".
According to a report in a British newspaper, Blair's place in the sun is assured when he leaves office. The Sunday Mirror suggests that the prime minister is considering accepting "a highly lucrative position with the Carlyle Group - an American-based investment giant with strong links to the White House and the defense industry...nicknamed 'The Ex-Presidents Club".
While I leave you to mull over that one, let's return to the draft. Some experts suggest the document is nothing less than a recipe for civil war. Bush thinks it represents a beacon toward his mantra of "freedom and democracy" and urges Iraqis to rally around it.
George W. blames Iraqis for their sorrowful plight along with a dwindling number of Americans who still support him - 36 percent according to a recent poll.
Naturally, the more than 100,000 civilians who lost their lives post-invasion, and the ongoing lack of security and basic utilities have nothing to do with him. Blame "the terrorists" stupid! He naturally forgets to mention there were no terrorists in Iraq prior to the war.
"We can expect...atrocities to increase in the coming months because the enemy knows that its greatest defeat lies in the expression of free people in freely enacted laws and at the ballot box," said Bush on Sunday.
In other words, increased insurgent violence validates US policy. Don't get it? Neither do I, and neither, I suspect, does anyone else with an IQ above 80.
From the president's standpoint, it's unfortunate that more and more US citizens are muttering the equivalent of Eureka (probably unprintable) and displaying thumbs down toward his administration. But will Bush be thrown to the lions?
Perhaps! An increasing number attribute the lackluster economy to the protracted invasion, are infuriated over sky-high oil prices (currently $70 per barrel), and are most of all worried about the military death toll hovering around 1,900.
A burgeoning grassroots movement, coagulated around Cindy Sheehan's Camp Casey, has emboldened even Republican senators like Chuck Hagel to finally mention the "V" (Vietnam) word and ask the question: Where's the exit plan? Bush's answer is to send more troops and insist the US will stay for the duration.
As for the Iraqis, the majority is entirely disenchanted with the neocon vision of their country. They simply want the freedom to drive their cars to their favorite coffee house or drop their kids off at school without fear of being shot at a checkpoint or falling victim to a roadside bomb.
Their concerns revolve around a lack of electricity in sweltering temperatures and less around the antics of their US-manipulated leadership in the fortified, luxurious Green Zone, who after weeks of wrangling have come up with a draft text that is hardly worth the paper upon which it's written.
As it stands, it has been rejected by Sunnis who don't want an Iraqi federation, no matter how loosely termed fearing the slippery slope to a three-way carve-up leaving the substantial Sunni minority without influence and, more importantly, without oil.
Indeed, the document has failed to satisfy either of the big three communities. Most Kurds long for an independent state that encompasses the oil-rich Kirkuk; most Shiites seek either an autonomous south or an overall Islamic state, while the Sunnis want to maintain a unified country and regain some of the power they held when Saddam was in charge.
Those sectarian ambitions are mutually exclusive and US pressure on negotiators simply serves to temporarily paper over the cracks allowing Bush to claim a modicum of victory and smooth an elegant superficial exit - superficial because US bases are set to become permanent fixtures.
Although the negotiating committee came up with some semblance of a constitution, the assembly has refused to ratify its clauses due to Sunni objections. Despite this setback, the constitution can still be placed before the people due to vote upon it in a mid-October referendum.
However, if two-thirds of voters in three Iraqi provinces say "nay" then the government will be dissolved and it's back to the drawing board. In light of a Sunni majority in four Iraqi provinces, the constitution's eventual rejection is more than likely.
By now, Iraq was supposed to be a role model for the region according to the Bush doctrine. Neighboring countries were supposed to be so consumed with envy that they would rush to follow suit, when in reality, most see Iraq as a frightening warning and are rushing, instead, to find a suitable deterrent.
The word in Washington is "America went to war with Saddam and Iran won". There is more than a grain of truth in this. Iranian mullas are already lauding the fact that Islamic law is set to be a mainstay of any Iraqi constitution and the fact that a united Shiite swathe from the Levant to Iraq is in its nascence.
The anti-war camp may find this amusing, but for many Iraqis it's a worrisome scenario. Most notable is former Bush poster-girl, anti-Saddam activist Safia Taleb Al-Souhail who was nominated as Iraq's ambassador to Egypt.
Pro-invasion Al-Souhail was invited to sit next to Laura Bush during the president's State of the Union address, and went around hugging American mothers who had lost their children in the war but now even she is having second thoughts. She believes the draft constitution is a threat to the rights of Iraqi women.
"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women," said Al-Souhail. "But look what has happened. We have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It's a big disappointment."
Come, come Ms. Al-Souhail. Don't be reticent. What's happened to Iraq, cheered on by you and yours is more than merely disappointing; it's nothing short of a man-made tragedy. Nero must be fiddling in his grave.
Linda Heard is a British journalist currently based in Cairo where she is a correspondent for the English-language daily The Arab News. She can be reached at: [email protected]
I appreciate the strength of faith shown by your post. Thank you.
To Ms. Heard,
I found your article a collection of half-truths and cheap shots by a journalist pandering to her audience by giving them what they want to hear.
Saddam was Nero, not Bush. It was Saddam that invaded Kuwait. Were the Kuwaitis given an option for self-rule? There were no terrorists in Iraq for the same reason there was no freedom or political dissent; they were all buried in mass graves, stored in coffin warehouses, or tortured in dungeons.
Certainly, the war hasn't gone as Bush has planned.
He expected (naively) the religious and secular leaders to act in the best interest of Iraqis, not stubbornly protect their own fiefdoms.
He expected Iraqis to work toward rebuilding infrastructure, not harbor and support their own extremists and the foreign agitators whose hate for America is stronger than their love of fellow Muslims. The continuing sabotage of the Iraqi infrastructure and killing of the Iraqi police is causing the instability that they blame on Bush.
He expected that once the foot of Saddam was removed, the Iraqis would be anxious to form their own government. Again, Bush is blamed for the Iraqi's inability to come to an agreement.
Yes, the support of the war is waning, but it is due to nothing the Muslim world should be proud of. Now the people who didn't care whether Iraqi people had freedom or not are being joined by the people who are tired of trying to help a population who would rather listen to foments of hatred than fighting for their freedom and who continue to bite the hand held out in support.
The result of the American pull out will leave Iraq in the hands of the strongest despot whether religious or secular. Again we will be blamed. Bush can make enough mistakes on his own without being blamed for this.
Sit back and enjoy what time you have, all time is running out for all man kind.
We are no more than wild animals.
BECAUSE I SEE WHAT IS GOING IN THIS DAYS.
I LISTEN THE RADIO AND MOSTLY READ ONLINE PAPERS
THOSE THINGS YOU SAID ON HERE ARE VERY CLEAR
THANKS FOR THAT GREAT ARTICLE