Date registered: Jun 2006
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Well, that all worked out fucking great, didn't it? Iraq's invasion of Baghdad ends in failure. Now they want us to invade Baghdad. And I thought we already had.
As violence mounts, so does evidence of civil war in Iraq
When the United States was riven by civil war, there was little doubt about what was happening: Southern slave states wanted to secede, and unionists wanted to stop them. There were defined battlefields and identifiable leaders on each side.
But civil wars are not always so clear-cut. As Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki meets Tuesday in Washington with President Bush, the pressing question is whether Iraq is already in a civil war, which could make even minimal U.S. objectives unattainable. By many measures, both quantifiable and anecdotal, it is.
While world attention has been focused on Israel and Lebanon for the past two weeks, the violence in Iraq has continued to escalate to unprecedented levels. The United Nations reports that at least 100 Iraqis are being killed each day, many in the most savage ways imaginable. It estimates that violent deaths of Iraqis rose 77% from January to June, for a total of 14,338 in the first half of this year. Iraqi officials report thousands are being forced, or scared, into fleeing places where they are in a minority.
Even more disturbing than the numbers is what's driving them. "Violent sectarianism" between the Shiite majority and the Sunni minority has overtaken the terrorist insurgency as "the main challenge," says Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
Though Khalilzad insists civil war has not been reached, the picture he paints increasingly sounds like one. Besides acknowledging the rising sectarian violence, he says security forces are often infiltrated by religiously motivated militias or working with them.
The Bush administration has defined its course as one in which U.S. troops stand down as Iraqi forces stand up. But if civil war is breaking out and Iraqi forces are riddled with militias, that course is increasingly untenable.
Throughout the Iraq war, the administration has failed to acknowledge reality — or done so belatedly. Prime examples include Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's assertion in 2003 that the insurgency was made up of a few "dead-enders" and Vice President Cheney's declaration a year ago that it was in its "last throes."
If the greatest threat to a stable Iraq and its fledging government now comes from a civil war, and not from foreign terrorists aligned with Sunni insurgents, the United States must adjust its approach accordingly, not indulge in groundless optimism.
Bush and Maliki reportedly will announce a plan to better secure Baghdad, where much of the sectarian violence is concentrated. An offensive begun last month by the Iraqi government, including curfews and 75,000 troops, hasn't worked.
The latest plan would likely involve more U.S. troops in Iraq's capital. Perhaps that will help. If it doesn't, there is a sense the United States is fast running out of options to control the ferocious forces unleashed by its ill-conceived invasion.