Public Opinion May Yet Give Bush Another Chance In Iraq
A couple of weeks ago, only 12% of those surveyed, favored sending more American troops into Iraq. Last night, I noticed, 36% did. And while 61% were still opposed, the Democrats in Congress are, mostly, talking of symbolic rather than binding votes against a step up.
Generally speaking, when the President of the United States takes action, the people rally to him. But Mr. Bush has waited much too long to try to reverse the negative course of events in Iraq.
It seems that Mr. Bush is going to be given one more chance there, but the situation has by no means improved in the last few weeks. For an improvement to take place, the unreliable Maliki government is going to have to be weaned from encouraging sectarian violence and start living up to its promises of Iraqi troop reinforcements in Baghdad, to assist U.S. forces in squelching the killings there.
Unless these two things happen, it's hard to see the Administration's "surge" of additional troops will do any good. In fact, the contrary might occur, if U.S. casualties soar, and the Iraqi government continues its poor performance, the American people as a whole may simply become fed up with the war and put pressure on Congress to rein it in, as it finally did with the Vietnam war.
We'll see, also, how the President does tonight. Many of his recent speeches have not been too effective. The stakes tonight are higher, and perhaps he will rise to the occasion. The President is, laudably in my view, a stubborn man, but he's also got to be convincing, if his point of view is to be given a chance.
On another front, the Administration and its new defense secretary, Robert Gates, seem to be having considerable success in applying pressure in Somalia to kill off the leaders on the Islamic Courts there and help the Ethiopians and the indigenous Somali forces to exert control. The American people probably aren't very preoccupied with that theatre of the war, but to the extent they are, the events of recent weeks have to be, on the whole, encouraging, especially if the al-Qaeda leader, Fazul Mohammed, a figure in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, turns out to have been killed.
The American people are looking for good news, some sign that the War on Terror is becoming marked by some successes. Somalia appears to be one such success, although a minor one. More significant events will be occurring in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
I've had a query about the present activities of Mark Willes, CEO of Times-Mirror before the sale of the newspapers to Tribune Co. I suggest contacting the Mormon church in Salt Lake City, because Willes is related to the Church leadership.