U.S., NATO summit could help salvage situation in Iraq

Posted: Monday, April 12, 2004

The latest events in the Shiite centers of Iraq could turn out to be a political catastrophe for the Bush Administration. For this could lead to the escalation of a smoldering revolt that until now had been limited to the Sunni areas and with it the danger that the planned handover of power to Iraqi authorities at the end of June might have to be postponed....

The Republican senator Richard Lugar, who takes a level-headed view of foreign affairs, is demanding more American troops to make Iraq secure. His Democrat colleague, Joe Biden, is even calling for a summit between Bush and his European allies in order to settle the trans-Atlantic quarrel over the Iraq war and to include NATO and the United Nations more strongly. Biden's logic is compelling: You can't go back. Now the task is to unite to bring peace and a better future to Iraq.

But in view of the alarming events on the ground, it may already be too late. And people are shaking their heads and remembering the scenarios and reasonings of the Bush Administration and its media supporters before the war: the invaders will be received with rose petals, democracy will soon blossom in Baghdad and an Iraqi federation will give a powerful impulse to the process of democratization throughout the Middle East. Maybe this dream will come true one day. But for now the danger in Iraq is of a debacle, the dimensions of which will become clear in the coming weeks.

A summit, as proposed by Senator Biden, is crucial in order to push the community of democracies, along with the U.N., toward a stronger engagement. But the Bush Administration should ask itself why before the war it was taken in by bizarre false claims and illusions.

Tages-Anzeiger, Zurich, Switzerland

April 6

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