(Hat tip: Sam)
Sam, by now Bush is toxic to any conversation or idea about almost anything. No one respects anything he has to say. At least LBJ had the sense to know he was finished and stood down. It does seem that we hanged the only guy who could keep the Iraq fire under control. At this stage it would take a coalition of 500,000 mostly non US troops to secure Iraq of which 350,000 would not fight. The fighting would still fall on the Americans the Aussies and a few other stalwarts.
The political waters are so spoiled that the only way that happens is if things get worse, and I fear they will. Zawahiri wants to open a new front in Pakistan to outflank Afghanistan and break the coalition there. If that happens, and it only takes the death of Musharraf, all bets are off. Zawahiri is an Egyptian. Zawahiri wants to take Egypt and Mubarak down.
Zawahiri will focus on the Palestinians, Jordanians and Lebanese with the ultimate goal of bringing Egypt into the fray and killing Mubarak. It is interesting to look back to August 2002.
When Bush got the idea in his head to go after Saddam, Mubarak begged him not to do it, but afterall what did Mubarak know about the Middle East? Here is a 2002 report from the Australian ABC
Egypt warns US not to attack Iraq
AM - Wednesday, 28 August , 2002 00:00:00
Reporter: Mark Willacy
LINDA MOTTRAM: United States President George W. Bush has been trying to convince a reluctant ally in Saudi Arabia to support an American strike against Iraq and he's been doing so as Arab voices were being raised in a new chorus against any assault.
Included overnight was that of one of the most senior leaders in the Middle East, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, who delivered a sharp warning hot on the heels of US Vice President Dick Cheney's strong reassertion of the case for an attack.
Amid the sound and fury over whether or not to go to war, British and American warplanes were engaged over Iraq, not in the beginning of a new conflict, but in the now very extended effort to contain Saddam Hussein, under post-Gulf War arrangements.
Middle East correspondent Mark Willacy reports.
MARK WILLACY: For George W. Bush winning friends and influencing people in the Middle East is proving a frustrating task. Now one of the more moderate and democratic Arab states has lined up against the US President's push for a strike against Saddam Hussein.
In typically blunt fashion, Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, is warning of turmoil in the Arab world should the US military go into Baghdad.
HOSNI MUBARAK [translated]: If you harm the Iraqi people while the Palestinians are still suffering it will only fuel the anger of the Arabs. No leader in the Arab world would be able to stop people expressing anger at such a move.
MARK WILLACY: And in a clear reminder of the mood of the Middle East, President Mubarak has reminded George W. Bush that not one Arab state, not even Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, wants a strike on Iraq.
A veteran of the shifting sands of Middle Eastern politics, the Egyptian leader knows full well that a US led regime change in Baghdad would inflame Islamist elements within his own country.
But Hosni Mubarak is right when he argues that no one here wants the United States trooping around Iraq.
In the last few days, Qatar has joined the list of Arab states counselling President Bush against military action. Jordan's King Abdullah argues that hitting his neighbour would open a pandora's box in the Middle East. Privately his officials fear a strike would devastate the kingdom's already sick economy.
Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, enjoying a slight warming in relations with Saddam Hussein, says a strike would destabilise the whole region. That's a view shared by Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Abdullah Bin Abdul Azziz, who warns it could lead to a human tragedy.
Saudi Arabia is seen by many of its own citizens as being too close to the US, so approval to use its airbases is highly unlikely. But the Bush administration isn't giving up on the Saudis. The US President spent hours at his Texas ranch listening to the concerns of a Saudi delegation.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
ARI FLEISCHER: Every time the President meets with foreign leaders and the topic of Iraq comes up, the President thinks it's a constructive exchange of ideas.
He listens carefully to the thoughts that people have about how to deal with Iraq. He hears them say and agree with him that Saddam Hussein is a threat, that Saddam Hussein is a menace, and then the President makes his case about why the world be better off without Saddam Hussein there.
The President is speaking in general terms at this time because no decision has been made.
MARK WILLACY: Iraq knows that George W. Bush is struggling to find some like-minded friends in the Middle East. Sniffing the wind, Saddam Hussein has declared to Iraq's official news agency that US threats are aimed not only at Baghdad but the entire Arab world.
It's not quite the 'come here and you'll leave in a coffin' rhetoric because the Iraqi leader has recently decided to tone down his language. In what some have described as a chum offensive, Saddam is instead insisting that any settlement of what he calls 'the problem' must rely on international law and the United Nations charter.
But the two sides in this debate are arguing different points. While Saddam Hussein's talking about weapons inspections and sanctions, George W. Bush is talking about wholesale regime change. And it's easy to forget that military operations in Iraq never really stopped anyway.
An Iraqi government spokesman says in the last 24 hours, British and US planes enforcing a no-fly zone bombed the airport of the main northern city of Mosul, while a military spokesman says war planes hit an Iraqi civilian installation in the south of the country.
LINDA MOTTRAM: Middle East correspondent Mark Willacy reporting.