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Frank Rich: Surge is a sham; Forces that killed Sheehan's son now run Iraq

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Published: Saturday January 6, 2007
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In his latest Sunday column, New York Times columnist Frank Rich contrasts how President Ford and President Bush handled Vietnam and Iraq. Contrary to Bush who wants to keep "refighting a war that is finished," the late President Ford "a consistent Vietnam hawk" assumed power during "the final throes of the fiasco" and "recognized reality when he saw it."

Rich also condemns the "awful power of the Saddam snuff film," calls the surge which "the press should start calling by its rightful name, escalation" a "sham," and argues that the forces that killed "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan's son now basically control Iraq.

"His real mission," Rich writes of Bush, "is to float the 'we're not winning, we're not losing' status quo until Jan. 20, 2009."

Excerpts from the article:

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Actually, it's even worse than that. Perhaps the video's most chilling notes are the chants of "Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada!" They are further confirmation, as if any were needed, that our principal achievement in Iraq over four years has been to empower a jihadist mini-Saddam in place of the secular original. The radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an ally of Hezbollah and Hamas, is a thug responsible for the deaths of untold Iraqis and Americans alike. It was his forces, to take just one representative example, that killed Cindy Sheehan's son, among many others, in one of two Shiite uprisings in 2004.

The day after Casey Sheehan's slaughter, Dan Senor, the spokesman for the American occupation, presided over a Green Zone news conference promising al-Sadr's woefully belated arrest on a months-old warrant for his likely role in the earlier assassination of Abdel Majid al-Khoei, a rival Shiite who had fiercely opposed Saddam. Today al-Sadr and his forces control 30 seats in the Iraqi parliament, four government ministries, and death squads (aka militias) more powerful than the nominal Iraqi army. He is the puppetmaster who really controls Nouri al-Maliki -- the Iraqi prime minister embraced by Bush -- even to the point of inducing al-Maliki to shut down a search for an American soldier kidnapped at gunpoint in Sadr City in the fall. (And, you might ask, whatever happened to Senor? He's a Fox News talking head calling for a "surge" of American troops to clean up the botch he and his cohort left behind.) Only Joseph Heller could find the gallows humor in a moral disaster of these proportions.

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The "surge," then, is a sham. It is not meant to achieve that undefined "victory" Bush keeps talking about but to serve his own political spin. His real mission is to float the 'we're not winning, we're not losing' status quo until Jan. 20, 2009. After that, as Joseph Biden put it last week, a new president will 'be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof.'"

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