I spoke yesterday about how, in the past, the Republicans have used military campaigns abroad to win elections, even if it meant undermining peace in Vietnam or freeing American hostages in Iran.
And how Vladimir Putin is convinced that the US was behind Saakashvili's decision to invade South Ossetia was, in part, to help John McCain win the November election.
Well, today Patrick Cockburn, one of the few journalists who remains on the ground in Iraq, claims that the handing back of Anbar province is being done for the exact same cynical reasons.
The hand- over by the US military of control of Anbar province, once the heartland of the Sunni rebellion, to Iraqi forces is a case in point. The US will keep 25,000 American soldiers in Anbar, so the extent to which the Iraqi government will really take over is debatable.There is an astonishing amount of gall to Bush now claiming that Anbar has been saved when he has previously insisted that the media were exaggerating what was happening there.
Much of what the White House is now doing is done to help the Republicans in the presidential election. The aim is to give the impression that Iraq has finally come right for the US and victory is finally in its grasp. The surge is promoted as the strategy by which the tide was turned and it is true that the Sunni uprising against the US occupation has largely ended.
But it has done so for reasons that have little to do with the surge or American actions of any kind. Crucial to the success of the government against the Mahdi Army has been the support of Iran. It is they who arranged for the Shia militiamen to go home.
It takes real cheek for Mr Bush to claim yesterday that "Anbar is no longer lost to al-Qa'ida" since during the last presidential election in 2004, he was claiming that the media was exaggerating the success of the insurgents.
But, by claiming to hand it back to the Iraqis - whilst retaining 25,000 troops there and doing no such thing - Bush can only have one aim. To help McCain claim that the surge is working and advise against moving out too quickly.
Click title for full article.