It took U.S. President George W. Bush over two years to understand that an ostrich, though a bird, is too large to fly. That is how many Iraqis interpret a report in the Washington Post in which senior White House officials are quoted as saying that Bush has lowered his expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq.
It is a political joke for many, and reminds us of the mythical despot who thought ostriches could fly. So when one of his senior officials was asked whether he also believed this, he said: “Yes. The ostrich flies but only at a very low altitude.”
The jest may not appeal to Americans, but the joke has spread almost everywhere in Iraq in the aftermath of the report.
Mr. Bush needs to be made to understand that his “ostrich” in Iraq was grounded the day his troops landed, and it has even lost a characteristic the African bird is famous for – the ability to run.
Therefore, a lowering of expectations is not enough. The U.S. administration needs to comprehensively revise an Iraq policy that has cost both Iraqis and Americans a great deal.
Now that Mr. Bush has realized his ostrich cannot fly, it is high time for him to sit down and acknowledge that the Iraq project has been a complete fiasco.
The things that hinder the fulfillment of Mr. Bush’s dream of “spreading democracy” in the Middle East remain, despite, according to the official tally, the death of over 1,800 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis.
Mr. Bush is guilty because he thought sending troops to invade a large, diverse, oil-rich country like Iraq was a joke. He and his aides looked at Iraq as though it were their own ranch. That is why Paul Bremer, his first civil administrator, acted like an emperor, issuing draconian decrees that stripped the country of its armed forces, police and security, and wrecked its decades-old civil service.
The world’s only superpower invaded a large country like Iraq based mainly on tourist-guide information, and as a result our country has imploded. For over two years, Mr. Bush has been hypnotized into thinking he had an ostrich that could fly. It is time for him to wake up.