Editorial – Axis of Needed

How times change.

Once denounced as part of the “axis of evil,” the leader of the country that infamously coined that dangerous phase is now seeking talks with member Iran to try end the ever-downward spiral of violence in neighboring Iraq that even a recent “surge” of troops has failed to dampen.

Be careful who you label as enemies; one day you may just need them.

This week we learned the American President George W. Bush has approved direct talks with Tehran in a bid to restore some semblance of order to blood-soaked Iraq, spurned by the capture of a reportedly Al Qaeda unit of three US troops that thousands of soldiers are hunting for before they befall a lethal fate of other such kidnapped troops.

Talking to Iran to try stem the Iraq violence was one of the suggestions of the much-heralded report by the Iraq Study Group last year that was swiftly discarded by Washington. Now, in times of desperate need, thankfully the US administration is listening – albeit because it is severely fenced in and under immense pressure from its Republican ranks ahead of the presidential election next year in which, with almost 3,500 US troops killed, Iraq is the key issue with voters, and Bush’s approval ratings are hazardously at Nixon level, and sinking.

The time given over to blinkered presidential Iraq happy talk is over; everyone, including outside the US, wants action, a withdrawal of coalition troops, an end to a conflict that is now into its fifth year and still killing Iraqis, Americans and others.

Yet even in its death throes, the US government still attempts to link what has been happening in Iraq to the attacks of September 11, 2001, in a vain but fallaciously calculated move to garner public support that has long since waned.

It is time now for stark realism, for those in power in the US and elsewhere to publicly recognize that the Iraq invasion and the subsequent years of death and destruction has amounted to an almighty folly, one that can only be righted by the coalition retreating and allowing the warring factions in Iraq, and those militants attracted to the current anti-US honeypot, to sort it out for themselves.

It is a start, at the very least, in talking to Iran.

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