SPECIAL SERIES : The War Issue
Highlighting the Ties Between Iraq and Iran
As approval for war falls, Bush shifts focus to Iran.
March 9, 2006 5:07 PM
Three years after the initial "shock and awe" campaign began in Iraq, President George W. Bush is on the road trying to rally support for the ongoing war.
Public backing for the war and Bush’s presidency has continued to dwindle, as justifications for waging war have been discredited and death tolls continue to rise. Poll numbers from the last year show that between 50 percent and 60 percent of Americans think the war was a mistake.
Throughout the fighting, and even before, questions began to surface regarding the reliability of intelligence information and assertions used to justify the war.
In a Senate Intelligence Committee report ordered in June 2003 and published in July 2004, analysts concluded that much of the information regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s attempts to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger were, “overstated, misleading, or incorrect.”
That same intelligence report concluded that Iraq was in no way involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
In 2003 as many as 71 percent of Americans, according to one Time Magazine/CNN poll, believed that Hussein was directly involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Other polls made similar findings.
Further driving public frustration with the ongoing war is the fact that democratization, the current justification for the war, has proved to be more complicated than marching into Baghdad or capturing Hussein.
In May 2003, when Bush gave a speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln before a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner, the job of creating a stable democracy in Iraq was just beginning, and the effort thus far has produced some surprising results.
“They wanted to institute a government in Iraq that was close to the United States,” said Ann Robertson, a professor of philosophy at SF State who studies human rights. “What they got was a government that is close to Iran.”
When the final results of the Iraqi elections held on Dec. 16 were announced, the results highlighted the close connection between Iran’s majority Shiite population and Iraq’s majority Shiite population.
The Islamic Dawa Party, which maintains its headquarters in Iran’s capital Tehran, is led by current acting Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafri, who lived for nine years in Iran and is considered to be a close ally of the Islamist government in Tehran. The main tenant of the Dawa Party platform is to establish an Islamic state in Iraq.
“Whereas in 2003 we would have rejected a government which included strong religious based parties, we are now quite willing to accept a Prime Minister who represents precisely that,” said Ambassador David Fischer, diplomat-in-residence at the SF State international relations department, in an e-mail interview. “Our objective right now is to reduce U.S. troop presence as quickly as possible without creating conditions for an all out civil war.”
The United States’ relationship with Iran has long been strained. Recent diplomatic confrontations have revolved around Iran’s nuclear ambitions and their alleged meddling in Iraq.
“We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran, whose policies are directed at developing a Middle East that would be 180 degrees different than the Middle East that we would like to see develop,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.
Despite the increasing influence of Iran and the fear that Iraq will dissolve into civil war if the United States withdraws its troops, the Bush administration has said that troop levels will be decreased this
“Anything which allows us to further withdrawal – within reason – will look pretty damned attractive between now and the November 2006 elections in the U.S.,” said professor Fischer.
This week Britain also announced that they will withdraw 10 percent of their remaining troops by this May.
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