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President Bush's announcement of a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is not a turning point in U.S. foreign policy, but a PR move on the eve of presidential elections
President Bush's announcement of a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is not a turning point in U.S. foreign policy, but a PR move on the eve of presidential elections, Russian political experts said Friday. In televised remarks Thursday night, Bush said the success of the U.S. "surge" in Iraq has made it possible to withdraw 5,700 troops from the country by the end of 2007, and four more combat brigades (about 15,000 servicemen) by July 2008. "The U.S. president needs to improve his own image and the image of the Republicans, but his announcement certainly does not mean any turning point [in the U.S. policy]," said Yevgeny Satanovsky, the head of the Middle East Institute, a Moscow-based political think tank. He said a dramatic change in the situation in Iraq could only be claimed if the country experienced a significant reduction in the number of terrorist acts and a political reconciliation, followed by a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops. "However, we do not see these changes," the expert said. "On the contrary, the situation [in Iraq] is constantly deteriorating." Shortly after Bush's televised address, the White House was forced to admit in a special report that the U.S. campaign, which has already lasted longer than the Second World War, and cost $500 billion and 3,800 American lives, has faltered in its attempt to build a democratic society in Iraq. "For the United States, no matter whether Democrats or Republicans are in power in the country, it will be painful to remain in Iraq, but it is almost impossible to pull out because it would mean a U.S. defeat," Satanovsky said. Another expert, Alexander Khramchikhin, a senior analyst at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, said a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is "an insane move influenced by the upcoming elections." "You cannot conduct elections and wage a war at the same time," he said, adding that the U.S. administration should have increased the number of troops in Iraq to achieve military success. "It is a pure PR move, but it is completely stupid from a military point of view," Khramchikhin said. Russians know only too well about failed military campaigns abroad. During the nine-year Soviet-Afghan war, which ended with a hasty withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in February 1989, Soviet Army losses, including frontier and internal security troops, officially came to 14,453. Some experts believe the economic and military cost of the war contributed significantly to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In an irony of history, the Soviet Army was in part defeated by mujahideen fighters equipped and financed by the United States. Following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, those same fighters dispersed throughout the world and began waging a global jihad, or Holy War, against "infidels," most notably their former benefactors, the Americans.
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