Mixed Signals

I know the White House’s policy in Iraq is schizophrenic, but this is getting ridiculous. On April 5th, Bush told reporters, “I believe we can transfer authority by June 30th.” Yesterday in El Dorado, Arkansas, Bush reiterated “We will pass sovereignty on June 30th. We will stay the course in Iraq. We’re not going to be intimidated by thugs or assassins.”

So June 30th is the date we “pass sovereignty”? I’m not sure Bush has taken a look at a calendar lately, but that date is only twelve weeks away. The war has been “over” for months and months, but the past week saw fighting worse than anything that ever occurred during the war itself. Months after Saddam Hussein was captured, armed insurgents are no longer shadowy forces, but solidified bands of guerillas, well-coordinated and with visible leaders. And so Rumsfeld is talking about sending more troops to Iraq? Yet Bush is insisting that we “pass sovereignty” is less than 90 days?

Of course, Bush’s blundering, wrongheaded, arrogant, sanguine obstinacy begs the question, to whom does the U.S. “transfer authority” on June 30th? All it takes is a quick scanning of the AP or Reuters newswires to see how fragile any kind of indigenous civil authority is in Iraq. For example, in the space of 24 hours last weekend, two police chiefs were assassinated. Elsewhere in Iraq, doctors, teachers, and professionals of all kind–anybody who might reasonably make up a moderate ruling class–are being targeted by both Sunni and Shiite fundamentalists.