Sunday, July 23, 2006

Security in Iraq Continues To Worsen

While the cables news networks give the Israel/Hezbollah conflict 24/7 coverage, Iraq continues to explode:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Car bombs killed at least 56 people in Iraq on Sunday as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki prepared for a White House visit expected to focus on easing violence that has raised doubts over his reconciliation efforts.

A blast killed 36 civilians in a Shi'ite district of Baghdad a day after an inaugural meeting to start reconciling Iraq's rival factions produced little tangible result.

Another car bomb exploded in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing at least 20 civilians outside a court house, police and witnesses said.

The Baghdad bomb, near a police station and open-air market, was in the Sadr City neighborhood, a poor area that is a stronghold of Shi'ite militias.

Shattered vehicles and stalls showed the power of the latest blast. Blood lay in pools. Some witnesses spoke of a suicide bomber driving a minivan but police said the cause was unclear.

This occupation is now officially a failure. According to the U.S. military, the ethnic cleansing and sectarian violence are now killing more people in Iraq than the insurgency. A top government official told Reuters that "Iraq as a political project is finished." Reuters reports that many Iraqi leaders "despair of being able to avert an all-out cilvil war." Prime Minister Maliki is coming to visit Washington this week, but as Mike at Crest says, "the Bush administration is going to frame this as a 'hard work' visit rather than the 'triumphal establishment of an Iraqi government' visit they had initially envisioned when they scheduled the thing five weeks ago after the new Defense and Interior Ministers were named." The Defense and Interior Ministries remain bastions of ethnic and religious militia power. And Ayatollah Sistani, a silent partner of the administration's Iraq reconstruction efforts, warned the administration this week that he worries events are spinning out of control. If the administration loses the backing of Sistani, David Ignatius said on The Chris Matthews Show this morning, the game in Iraq is over.

I wonder how the administration finagles enough "progress" out of these deteriorating security conditions in Iraq to continue with it's pre-midterm election redeployment plan. Word leaked out last month that General Casey was planning to pull two combat brigades out of Iraq in September, contingent upon improving security. Security in Iraq has gotten worse this summer, however, not better. Tom Lasseter from McClatchy Newspapers reports today that:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Despite the addition of almost 100,000 U.S.-trained Iraqi troops in the past year, U.S. efforts to pacify central Iraq and the capital appear to be failing, challenging a central assumption behind the U.S. strategy in Iraq: that training more Iraqi security forces will allow U.S. troops to start going home.

The number of trained Iraqi soldiers and police grew from an estimated 168,670 in June 2005 to 264,600 last month.

Yet Baghdad's morgue is receiving nearly twice as many Iraqis each day as it did last year. The number of bombings causing multiple fatalities has risen steadily. Attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops last month grew 44% from June 2005.

"Even as the number and capabilities of Iraqi security forces have increased, overall security conditions have deteriorated," concluded a report that the Government Accountability Office submitted to Congress earlier this month.

More Iraqi troops, worsening security situation. No matter how the administration tries to spin things (and Josh Bolten said this morning in Meet The Press that the administration is encouraged with the way the Iraqi government is trying to pull together to battle the sectarian violence), this ain't progress. This is failure.

With security conditions deteriorating despite the addition of 100,000 Iraqi troops and with the U.S. military needing to bring more troops into Baghdad this month to handle the violence, it would be supremely cynical for the administration to calim "progress" and pull two combat brigades out of Iraq before the November midterms in order to give fellow Republicans cover for their campaigns. That doesn't mean Karl Rove and the other politicos in the administration won't do it. But it will mean that the "cut-and-run" rhetoric they've been using against war critics who have asked for a troop withdrawl timetable can be used back at Rove and company. For what's worse, pulling troops out of Iraq because you think the occupation is futile and the war is a mistake or pulling troops out because you want to say there's been progress and you want to use it for your political campaigns in November?

I don't know how the United States can extricate itself from this mess and find some reasonable solution in Iraq that doesn't end in a complete bloodbath. One thing I do know though: everybody inovlved in creating this mess ought to be taken from their positions of power and/or influence and sent to some island away from D.C. Tom Ricks of the Washington Post made the point that this Iraq war plan was one of the worst in American history. It provided for the way to get to Baghdad and take out Saddam and little else. Now we're in the little else part. You would think the fuckers who created the plan and enabled the inital invasion would be chastened by their failures. They're not. The neo-cons are now pushing for an attack on Iran and Syria next. Some in the administration, particularly the VP's office, agree.

those are the guys and gals who ought to be put on the "neo-con island" away from all of us. Then the adults can figure out how to clean up the mess they created.

The only hope for a solution is UN action - with the lightning-rod US out of the picture. But it may be too late even for that.

And lets hope the fuckers are chastened in November.
Do you really think the Dems would do any differently? They look alike from over here...
Let Iraq Have Its Civil War

It's become evident within the last year that Iraqis are now more interested in killing each other than in killing American troops. This was bound to happen since religious differences always result in the bloodiest consequences. Yes, Americans have a different religion, but the Shia-Sunni sectarian warfare is about religious schism, inherently much more volatile and fanatic.

Do we just cut and run then, leaving Iraq for the benefit of some other country due to our effort? No. Let's consolidate the few gains we've made and hunker down to see how the Shia-Sunni civil war plays out.

Move our troops and our Iraqi Green Zone government into friendly Kurdish territory. We can move back in if Iran or anyone else tries to intervene. Keep the Syrian border sealed. Reinforce the British troops in Basra so that the oil fields and the Gulf are protected.

The Sunnis, though a minority, will get plenty of help from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. Iran will supply the Shiites. Our troops and puppet government will be out of harm's way.

Our troops will no longer have responsibility to control a territorial area too big for the force we have there. Yet we will still have a deterrent capability in the area.

No matter when we leave, a sectarian civil war will occur at some point. Why lose anymore American soldiers in trying to put off the inevitable?

This conflict looks less like Vietnam and more like the British Mandate in Palestine everyday. What did the British do? They left.
From your keyboard to god's ears, abi. A November chastening would be nice.

romunov, I do think the democrats would have done something different post-9/11. I think I can say w/ certainty that an Iraq invasion wouldn't have been on a President Gore's list of things to do after the WTC and Pentagon attacks. Think about how much better things would be if George W., DeadEye Dick and the rest hadn't ginned up the case for war and gotten the U.S. bogged down in Iraq - we'd have had the capacity to go after Bin laden and the rest of Al Qaeda, we'd have half a trillion dollars more in the treasury, world opinion would still be on our side like it was after 9/11, Saddam on Iran's flank would give the ayatollahs in that nation a lot more to think about than the current weakened Iraqi state...

Marshall, your plan sounds like a modified Murtha redeployment with American troops going to Kurdistan instead of Jordan and the Brits remaining in Basra. Frankly, it might be as good a plan as the current "stand and bleed", but I wonder if pulling back like that would allow the Sunni/Shia conflict to spill over the border of Iraq? I dunno, but that would be my one big fear.
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