Monday, July 25, 2005


In The Beirut Express Billmon writes: "Iraq is no longer a country (if it ever was) but a collection of scorpions in a bottle, each maneuvering for position to strike. "
Once again this Sunday, the New York Times had an article pointing toward the US surrender in Iraq.
Reporter John Burns has tried for two years or more to accentuate the positive and pretend the US occupation is making progress. But there's a limit. Even Burns has flipped now.
. . . opponents of the American-led invasion had warned [that] American troops could get caught in the crossfire between Sunnis and Shiites, Kurds and Turkmen, secularists and believers - reduced, in the grimmest circumstances, to the common target of a host of contending militias . . . [now] the nightmare could come true. Recent weeks have seen the insurgency reach new heights of sustained brutality . . . with Sunni insurgents targeting hundreds of Shiite and Kurdish civilians in suicide bombings. There are reports of Shiite death squads, some with links to the interior ministry, retaliating by abducting and killing Sunni clerics and community leaders. The past 10 days have seen such a quickening of these killings, particularly by the insurgents, that many Iraqis are saying that the civil war has already begun . . . One measure of the doubts afflicting American officials here has been a hedging in the upbeat military assessments that generals usually offer, coupled with a resort to statistics carefully groomed to show progress in curbing the insurgents that seems divorced from realities on the ground.

Over the last six months, I think the American military has already been withdrawing from vast areas of the country, turning policing over to the Kurd and Shiite militias. The American military is preparing to hunker down in its bases and abandon the rest of Iraq to its fate. Bush was promoting the idea that American troops would withdraw as Iraqi troops stood up. But now we are hearing increasingly that Iraq will not learn to defend itself until the Americans leave. I call this the 'tough love" excuse, and, as Billmon notes, it is a disgusting abandonment.
Some senior officers have said privately that there is a chance that the pullback will be ordered regardless of what is happening in the war, and that the rationale will be that Iraq - its politicians and its warriors - will ultimately have to find ways of overcoming their divides on their own. America, these officers seem to be saying, can do only so much, and if Iraqis are hellbent on settling matters violently - at the worst, by civil war - that, in the end, would be their sovereign choice.
Oh, yessiree bob -- I'm sure we all remember seeing those Iraqi people in January making a sovereign choice to vote for a violent civil war.

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