Conquerors or Liberators25 Aug 2003
I remember thinking back in April, as the war in Iraq was drawing to a close, that the whole debate in the press how the Iraqis would view the US, er, I mean coalition troops was kind of pointless. The Iraqis would be deciding for themselves, without the help of western journalists or editorialists, it would be a process that would take many months, and the proof would be in the facts and events in Iraq, not in the words of pundits.
Even in April it was clear that an troops would be in Iraq for at least two years, well past the 2004 election. And I also remember thinking back then that, from his timing of the war, President Bush was handing the fate of his re-election away from US voters and to the Iraqi people. If, say, in the summer of 2004 the occupation is going badly, the Iraqis do not feel liberated and 'better off than they were 4 years ago', if US soldiers are still killing and being killed, Iraq would then dominate the US election and Bush would be like LBJ in 1968, namely toast.
I also decided back in April that it would take at least 6 months to draw any conclusions as to whether the occupation is going well or poorly. But maybe the American public isn't going to wait that long, according to a Newsweek poll:
49 percent of registered voters would not back the president for a second term if the vote were held now. Forty-four percent would support Mr. Bush's re-election.... Only 18 percent of those polled believe a stable, democratic government can be set up in Iraq in the long term. And only 13 percent of respondents said U.S. efforts to establish security in Iraq and rebuild the country have gone well
It looks like the future is now. Or, as Buzz Machine commented: "The war was a success. But the peace is hell."