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Syed R. MAHMOOD It's time for Bush to change course in Iraq
March 09, 2007
By: Syed Rifar Mahmood
PRESIDENT Bush and his war strategies are under scrutiny by the American public.

"The struggle between freedom and terror in the Middle East, including the battle in Iraq, is the central front in the War on Terror," President Bush said Aug. 31 at the American Legion National Convention in Salt Lake City.

His new strategy is to confront al-Qaida and its followers and make clear that those nations that harbor terrorists are just as guilty as terrorists.

"We have launched a bold new agenda to defeat the ideology of the enemy by supporting the forces of freedom in the Middle East and beyond," he said.

On Jan. 10, in his somber prime-time speech to the nation, Bush admitted some errors in his Iraq policy.

In his new strategy to stabilize Iraq, he is committing an additional 21,500 troops.

But he has rejected the advice of the Baker-Hamilton group, a bipartisan body, to resolve the issue through dialogue and other political means. He also is defying the overwhelming majority of Americans.

The president is in complete denial that his strategy in Iraq to control the violence and terror has failed. The dream of Iraq becoming a model of democracy for other Arab states has died.

In the State of the Union address, he offered the same recycled ideas regarding the Iraq strategy. To date, the Bush administration has failed to implement effectively even one of his goals and strategies.

More than 70 percent of Americans no longer pay attention to Bush's rhetoric.

His circle of isolationism is tightening every day.

The invasion of Iraq has transformed it from a dictatorship into the capital of terrorism. It also has inspired thousands of "Jihadies" to join the guerrilla movement to fight our allied forces.

Bush said the decade of stagnation, despair, lack of freedom and democracy has made the Middle East an incubator for terrorists.

In the modern era of Middle East history, the movement of terrorism started with the creation of Israel.

Former Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin were terrorists wanted by the British Empire. The occupation of Arab land and inhumane treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli forces — and the United States' support of Israeli policies — has provoked violent reactions and radicalized young Palestinians.

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai still is confined to the Kabul area. Opium cultivation is 30 percent of that nation's economy. The Taliban is regrouping.

"Al-Qaida is not on the run. It is on the march," said Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University.

A large number of people in Europe and the Middle East consider the United States a partner of Israel in punishing the Palestinian population for electing the Hamas government.

More than three decades of stagnation, despair, humiliation and disrespect for Palestinian dignity has swayed younger Palestinians toward extremism.

Saying that Palestinians are not ready for peace is nothing but a delay tactic by Israel.

Former President Jimmy Carter acknowledged that the present administration has made no serious effort in the last six years to resolve Israeli and Palestinian problems.

Sheik Hasan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, and Mahmud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, have emerged as the most admired leaders in the Middle East.

The United States' tacit approval for Israel to bomb Lebanon's civilian infrastructure has isolated us more in the international affairs.

A recent BBC survey claims that 70 percent of people around the globe blame Bush for the mess in Iraq.

The Iraq study group and an overwhelming majority of Americans want Bush to make a drastic change in his strategy and bring our troops home in six months.

Let the United Nations take charge. We should help the U.N. and pick up the tab for the next 10 years to build the economy and the political infrastructure of Iraq.

Let us start a sincere effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian problems.

A majority of the American public does not approve military action against Iran.

Syed Mahmood, a 2002 Republican nominee for 13th district seat in the U.S. Congress, is founder and president of American Institute of International Studies.