The Western military alliance had expected to announce at a June summit that it would accept a role in the country, perhaps by leading the international division now patrolling south-central Iraq. But amid continuing bloodshed and strong public opposition to the occupation in many nations, allies want to delay any such major commitment until after the U.S. presidential election in November, officials say.
Why wait until after the election? Either NATO leaders are hinting that they'll only play in the sandbox if Kerry's elected, or they simply realize that the US won't get serious about Iraq until after the election, regardless of who's elected
The second line of thinking makes sense, at least in theory. If Bush does win in November, he can take a deep breath, banish Rove, stop worrying about polls, and do whatever it takes to redeem the occupation, politics be damned. This could possibly
improve things. After all, some of the most practical ideas for salvaging this war-- groveling before the UN, splitting up Iraq, allowing for a Shiite theocracy in the South-- also happen to be politically dodgy. And vice versa, some of the shrewdest political tactics surrounding the war-- low-balling cost estimates, forcing opportunistic funding votes, pushing overly optimistic strategies-- have been disastrous from a strategic standpoint.
Obviously I hope Bush gets voted out. But now matter how the election turns out, January '05 will be the best time to finally get serious about the occupation.