Thank you, Time magazine

Click picture to go to Time magazine report

Belling the cat

The latest issue of Time Magazine contains a special report on how President Bush screwed up the task of winning the peace in Iraq.

go to Time cover story

Bush with mission accomplished banner

The cover headline is alludes to the first day in May when The Shrub played dress-up to be flown in a fighter jet to the USS Lincoln to proclaim that "major combat operations have ended." Not!

Despite the banner, artfully positioned to form the backdrop of this made-for-TV photo op, the mission in Iraq is hardly accomplished. Surely the Bushies thought this would be prime footage for the 2004 presidential campaign, showcasing the triumphant commander in chief.

It probably still will be prime footage for the campaign, but unless things turn around, it will be shown in commercials for the Democrat nominee, not for George W Bush. If so, it will be the quintessential definition of "hoist on his own petard."

Bush in borrowed flight suit Bush plays top-gun in a borrowed flight suit

Instead of strewing flowers in our path and greeting the US as liberators, the Iraqis strew bombs and see the US as occupiers. Instead of finding the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that were the rationale for the war (one of several during the lead-up and since), David Kay and his team of thousands have found none during their months-long search. Instead of grateful allies that realize the US was right all along and cheerfully ante-up to pay for this, they hold fast to a "you broke it, you pay for it" attitude. Instead of Iraq being able to pay for its own reconstruction through the sale of oil, the Iraq misadventure is costing the US $1 billion a week, with an additional $87 billion on the tab for this year alone.

Who knows how it will all turn out. The weapons may still turn up — after all, Iraq is a big country and Saddam was skilled at deception. Saddam may still be captured. Other major allies (besides Britain) still may be cajoled or bribed into contributing significant funds and troops to really internationalize the reconstruction.

The Bushies are fond of saying or implying that those who disagree with them want the US to fail in Iraq. That is so far from the truth to be laughable. No one in the US wants an even bigger mess to have to clean up. No country wants a failed Iraq and a completely destabilized Middle East. After all, France, Russia, Germany, and Japan are the biggest holders of Iraq's outstanding debt; surely they don't want to write it off.

Yes, Iraq is a mess. The sooner everyone accepts that the US is going to have to clean it up largely on our own and that we don't have any real choice about it, the better off we'll be.