Last Copter Out of Baghdad

Bush Flees Iraq Mess On The Campaign Express

You don't read much about Basra, in the southern part of the country, because it is under British, not American, occupation: Shiite territory, where unemployment approaches 70 percent, and where religious gangs with names like "Revenge of God" and "The Organization of Islamic Rules" firebomb Christian-owned liquor stores and shoot their proprietors.

Welcome to the new Iraq. Recently Lloyds of London has begun selling insurance to U.K. firms with reconstruction contracts, to pay off if America quits the scene before reconstruction is complete. An American insurer, Marsh & McLennan, has chosen not to offer its usual line of insurance for political risk, expropriation, and terrorism. The smart money in Iraq, it appears, is betting on a bugout.

"This is a plan that is entirely geared to create political peace in the United States from June to November," Blumenthal observes. "Whether it has any relations to the facts on the ground is another question."

illustration: Ward Sutton

War opponents might be tempted to take heart: If President Bush wants to end an ugly and wasteful war in order to get elected, let him.

They might want to heed the example of Richard Nixon. Little more than one month after he won his 1972 re-election, he initiated the most savage bombing campaign in the history of the war—in the history of warfare. It was a little shock and awe at Christmastime. He was still convinced America could prevail militarily: No peace, no honor. Here's to hoping George W. Bush is a little less cynical.

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