Another Chapter in the Bush Legacy Will Shortly Be Written | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Another Chapter in the Bush Legacy Will Shortly Be Written

2009 begins with three stories out of Iraq that will begin to write the final chapter on George Bush's U.S.-Iraq adventure. On January 3 the U.S. military began the process of pulling combat troops out of Iraqi cities in compliance with a U.N. mandate that calls for the transfer of security to the Iraqi government. On January 2 an 18 year old blew himself and 23 other up at a tribal Sunni/Shiite tribal meeting aimed at reconciling their differences. On January 4 a Female bomber killed or wounded more than 112 in a Shiite Muslim shrine. These incidents will help write the story of Iraq in the years to come.

In her swan song interview defending what will become the Bush legacy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the Bush Administration's Iraq adventure: "...historians who are now making judgments about the Bush administration and its Middle East policies aren't very good historians." This cute statement ignores both who is actually making the judgments as well as the nature of those judgments. Dr. Rice knows very well that history is more than just a record of the past. It is an account of how humans interact with each other. Any analysis of current events that ignores historical events is not very good analysis. The Bush legacy is being examined, not only by historians comparing modern events with past events, but by modern political analysts who draw upon history in order to help explain and predict the current and future course of events.

The Bush Administration's claim that it is leaving behind a building Iraqi democracy and a path toward a stable, peaceful future is little more than fantasy and demonstrates an incredible lack of insight. The Bush Administration never solved the one issue that is absolutely critical to stability. It never found a way to stitch together the cultural cleavages that divide the country. Saddam did it by sheer force. It is not clear what the American method was supposed to be but it appears to have been something that resembles the Swiss Canton system. Switzerland has long been a country that achieved balance and stability between historically clashing cultures with a combination of integration and political representation. An Iraqi parallel is nowhere near reality.

In 2003 historians understood the obstacles an American military approach would meet in Iraq because; well, they knew history. They were as qualified as anyone to judge and predict what Iraq would look like in five years and their analysis proved painfully accurate. Five years later they remain in a good position to analyze and predict what Iraq will look like in the near future.

Even the most cursory reading history can find an extremely close parallel to the events in Iraq. In 1974 the United States concluded an eight year war by removing its combat troops and leaving in place a "popularly elected government" it thought was both stable and capable of defending itself. Within months the house of cards the Americans built began to fall and the touted government proved to be neither popular, nor stable, nor able to defend itself. The Iraqi government doesn't just look a little bit like the Saigon government the U.S. left behind. It looks EXACTLY like it.

As the U.S. government begins to pull its troops from Iraq the vacuum will be filled by the "trained" Iraqi military. The cultural divisions remain as strong now as they were prior to 2003 but the Iraqi political system being left behind has none of the characteristics or capabilities necessary to address this divide. As one looks at the events that begin 2009 it is plain to see what will become of Iraq when the United States completes its troop withdrawal. One bombing will begat another and shortly the nation will see the same sectarian violence that the 2006/2007 U.S. troop surge tried to put a lid on. We can begin writing the last chapter of this sorted tale because the first week in January demonstrates that all the pieces are in place for Iraq's near future.

It is unfortunate that an American terrorist group co-opted the lyrics from a Bob Dylan song and made its further use almost perverse; but even today the lyrics are a fitting response to Secretary Rice's contention that analysts are premature in their assessment. "It doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."