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By HAL BROWN
The lead editorial in the New York Times ( A Bleak Assessment on Iraq ) today ends as follows:
Mr. Bush needs to get serious about demanding such a change, including enforceable deadlines for overdue steps like eliminating militia supporters from the police, ending vengeful anti-Baathist measures targeting the Sunni middle class, and guaranteeing the fair allocation of oil revenues.
Otherwise, Iraq seems headed over the cliff.
I am reminded of Gandhi’s failed attempt to keep India, a country he led to freedom from Great Britain, from splitting into Pakistan and India. The hatred between the minority Muslim Indians and the majority Hindu Indians was too great for even Gandhi to resolve. Once free from British rule, he did manage to get them to stop killing each other, no mean feat, by a “fast until death”. But to his great dismay, he couldn’t stop the partition of India.
Bush, who takes “credit” for liberating Iraq from Saddam’s dictatorship, is no Gandhi.
Had the Iraqis themselves taken down Saddam, perhaps there would be a slim chance that, with or without their own Gandhi, they could have put their sectarian hatred aside for the good of the country.
Of course, there is no Iraqi Gandhi.
The Americans came in and did all the heavy lifting for them and destroyed much of their country in the process.
Then they became an occupying army, and before long they became the new enemy led by the “liberator president” who proved to be as arrogant and removed from their daily life as Saddam had been.
Like Saddam, Bush preferred to use force rather than diplomacy to solve problems. Unlike Saddam, Bush was better at tearing down public services than building them up.
If Bush was wise he would know that an outsider cannot mandate peace in Iraq. If he had a modicum of self-awareness, he would know that if it was remotely possible for a foreign leader to broker peace, even as the “mission accomplished” aviator that he fancies himself, he just doesn’t have the “right stuff”.
(Hal Brown is a clinical social worker and former mental health center director who is mostly retired from his private psychotherapy practice. He writes on the psychopathology of public figures and other topics that pique his interest. He can be found online at www.stressline.com)