S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Iraq on the edge

The Pentagon has problems. The war in Iraq is not going well, to put it mildly. And OCP (our current president) is in India making a nuclear deal.

Why are things going so badly? Here is a hat tip to Kos for the link that discusses one part of what is behind the Pentagon's problems. The adminstration ignored warnings about what might happen after the fall of Baghdad. Intelligence officials warnings a couple of years ago, about the possibilities of a significant insurgency in Iraq, evidently fell on deaf ears. To quote from Knight Ridder,

U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the White House beginning more than two years ago that the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war, according to former senior intelligence officials who helped craft the reports.
Among the warnings, Knight Ridder has learned, was a major study, called a National Intelligence Estimate, completed in October 2003 that concluded that the insurgency was fueled by local conditions - not foreign terrorists- and drew strength from deep grievances, including the presence of U.S. troops.
Iraq is as yet unable to form a government of national unity. Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are deeply divided, as they have been for centuries. Thoughtful people here are divided about whether the country is now in a true civil war. There is even wide disagreement among Iraqi officials about the extent casualties from the current widespread violence. Middle East violence continues as Iraq teters on the edge of civil war, according to an article in Aljazeera,
Attacks on a vegetable market in southeastern Baghdad and a police checkpoint in Tikrit have left at least 18 people dead, including Iraqi soldiers. Another blast in a bus travelling in Baghdad's Sadr City has killed five people and wounded eight, police said. The sprawling slum is a stronghold of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric who has reached across Iraq's sectarian divide and called for Sunni and Shia solidarity in fighting US occupation.

A parliament but no government - Attempts to form a government following last December's elections in Iraq have been unsuccessful so far. The power struggle continues. It is not yeat clear whether Iraq will be an Islamist nation or a nation of disparate beliefs with a larger national identity. The BBC headlines what is happening in the country of Iraq this way:
Iraq government talks in disarray
Iraq's politicians have already held months of talks. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has cancelled a meeting with senior political leaders, apparently to protest against a campaign to oust him. Kurdish and Sunni leaders are unhappy with Mr. Jaafari and have said they will not join a national unity government with him at its head. This is the latest crisis to hit attempts to form a new government.
Iraq is undergoing one of its worst periods of violence, with 18 people being killed in attacks on Thursday. At least 400 people have been killed since Wednesday, when one of Iraq's holiest Shia shrines at Samarra was bombed.
A senior UN official has blamed an "endemic" breakdown of security for the increasing bloodshed. John Pace, until recently UN human rights chief in Iraq, told the BBC News website that 75% of the hundreds of bodies that arrive at the Baghdad mortuary each month show signs of torture or deliberate execution. Last month, an investigation was launched into claims by the US military that an Iraqi interior ministry "death squad" has been targeting Sunni Arab Iraqis.

Winning just short of a majority of Shiite parliamentarians is not enough. And the Shiites first choice(the former prime minister) according to the New York Times, Ibrahim Jaafari, may not be the final choice for Prime Minister, after all.
In a move that could redraw Iraq's political map, leaders of Iraq's Kurdish, Sunni and secular parties are considering a plan to ask the country's largest Shiite bloc to withdraw Ibrahim Jaafari as its candidate for prime minister in the new government.
One political leader said the parties would send letters in the next day or two asking the Shiite bloc to reverse its decision to retain Mr. Jaafari as prime minister. If the Shiites refuse, the parties will form their own umbrella bloc, large enough to block the Shiites' choice and let them put forth their own candidate, said the leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because delicate negotiations over the issue were in progress.

Risky tactics? Thinkers are not agreed about what is the best thing for the United States to do now. Juan Cole at Informed Comment has a a different take on this new development. He worries that it will not be successful. To quote,
Personally, I think that given the parlous security situation in Iraq, it is absolutely crazy to be playing these political games. In the wake of the destruction of the Sskariyah Shrine in Samarra, you want to go to the Shiite community and say, 'you cannot have your choice of prime minister and there is going to be a tyranny of the minorities'? Oh, that will calm things right down.There is no guarantee that the United Iraqi Alliance will give the Americans, the Kurds and the Sunnis a candidate who they like better.
Public opinion about all this - At TPMCafe, blogger Bruce Jentleson has an interesting post that focuses on polls related to the war in Iraq. Citing a recent Zogby International poll about attitudes about withdrawal among troops in Iraq, he writes in part that,
. . . American troops serving in Iraq finds 72% favoring withdrawal within this calendar year. Only 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed” (i.e., Bush’s we’ll stand down when the Iraqi forces stand up).
How to show support - In this as well as so many other matters, this administration has shown incredible and persistent incompetence. Our troops have fought and continue to fight bravely and well. They deserve our continued support with everything we can do to help them. And returning soldiers and veterans should be well supported here at home.
When to withdraw - The question on everyone's mind now is when should we leave Iraq to find its own way. Do they need to be free of one of the targets of the insurgents, the United States "occupiers," as many there see us. We need some answers fast. I am not sure whether we are part of the problem or part of the answer.
  1. NYT Q & A "Iraq's Political Process" - features material from the Council on Foreign Relations.
  2. TWN Steve Clemons posts an in-depth piece about his discussion with Nir Rosen about Iraq's civil war.
My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is about The Ides of March.

No comments: